Meta-ethical theories Flashcards Preview

Ethics 7 > Meta-ethical theories > Flashcards

Flashcards in Meta-ethical theories Deck (38)
Loading flashcards...

Define 'moral absolutes'

Supported by an authority or evident truth, implicit in some religious morality


Define 'moral relativity'

Morality is dependent on the circumstance so there is no one moral authority


What is the study of meta-ethics?

Philsophy that examines what we can say about ethics, an open enquiry that explores the language and meaning of ethical debate


What is naturalism?

There are moral facts which can be determined by our senses


What is intuitionism?

There are moral facts we can know through our inner senses


What is emotivism?

There are no moral facts


What are the two types of meta-ethical theories?

Cognitive and non-cognitive


What are cognitive (objective) theories?

Ethical naturalism and intuitionism


What are non-cognitive (subjective) theories?



Name two ethical naturalists

F.H.Bradley and Phillipa Foot


Describe F.H.Bradley's ideas (3)
(Duty, where morals come from, verification of statements)

- Duty is universal and absolute
- Our morals are known by our place in society and purpose in life
- Statements are only factual if they can be verified empirically


Describe Phillipa Foot's ideas

- A moral person is someone who keeps promises and defends human rights
- Moral evil is a 'natural defect'
- Virtues observed by watching other's actions
- Norms of each species behaviour come from how they maintain their lives e.g. swiftness of deer so members can be judged on their efficiency
- E.g. an owl with poor night vision = defective but if someone's intentions are good then they're still considered moral


Morality in intuitionism exists (1) experience and is self evident in (2)

1 - independently of
2 - nature


Name three scholars of intuitionism

G.E.Moore, H.A.Pritchard and W.D.Ross


Give a quote from G.E.Moore

"If I am asked 'what is good?' My answer is that 'good is good and that is the end of the matter"


Describe G.E.Moore's ideas
(How do we know what good is? How do we perceive goodness? Reason/logic? Hume)

- Intuitive sense to perceive moral goodness
- We know what good is when we experience it just as we recognise the colour yellow to be irreducible
- We cannot use reason to determine what is good
- If we reduce goodness to something else we commit naturalistic fallacy


What is naturalistic fallacy?

It is a mistake to define moral terms with reference to other properties which breaks Hume's law


What does Moore believe in regards to the physical world's relationship with moral judgement and how intuition cannot be measured?

- It is a mistake to look to the physical world to define good as this will turn moral judgement into physical judgement
- Intuition cannot be measured empirically


Describe H.A.Pritchard's ideas
(arguments to define moral obligation, good action and duty, reason and intuition, ethical dilemmas, differing morals, doubt)

- It is impossible to find arguments that define moral obligation
- There is a gap between good action and the concept of duty as duty is beyond good action
- Reason collects fact and intuition determines what course to follow
- Ethical dilemmas come from choices between actions when faced with conflicting moral obligations
- Morals differ because of individual moral clarity
- Doubt comes from the hesitation of moral thinking capacity to determine what is right


Give a quote from W.D.Ross

Morals, like maths, are self-evident"


Name two books by W.D.Ross

The Right and The Good (1930) and Foundations of Ethics (1939)


Describe W.D.Ross' ideas
(principles and cultures, morality and moral duty, moral theories)

- Principles and cultures can conflict e.g. lying to keep a promise/ Islam 1 man may have 4 wives so morality cannot be absolute
- Morality is objective but moral duty is conditional
- Moral theories are lists of principles from which we can decide a course of action


What are Prima Facie Duties? (W.D.Ross)

The apparent duties 'at first appearance' when faced with a moral problem:
promise keeping, reparation, gratitude, justice, beneficence, self-improvement and non-malevolence


What is G.E.Moore's key book?

Principa Ethica


Why would G.E.Moore disagree with utilitarianism?

The Hedonic Calculus tries to objectify what good is and it can't because good cannot be defined or pinpointed


What is the difference and similarities of thinking between Hume and Moore?

- Morality cannot be derived from reason
- Hume: morality is derived from sentiment and the feelings of approval to an action


How does the ideas of Kant and W.D.Ross compare?

Prima Facie Duites are an extension on Kan'ts works as Kant believed you need lots of duties to make a moral decision but these would over lap and require sub-clauses


What is Hume's law?

You cannot go from an 'is' (statement of fact) to an 'ought' (statement prescribing what should be done) as philosophers do when talking of morality e.g. you ought not to lie


Emotivism: morality is (1) and subjective as they are expressions of (2)

- non-cognitive
- opinion


Who were the Vienna Circle? What was their key idea regarding verification?

A group of philosophers in the 1920s who developed the idea of logical positivism and accepted Hume's guillotine, they rejected the existence of things or statements that cannot be known through verifiable science