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Transcript Meta-Ethics

Normative Ethics
Subject matter is moral issues
such as abortion, war,
euthanasia etc
Provides theories or
frameworks which help people
to make a moral decision
Often referred to as a first
order theory because it deals
with moral issues
Subject matter is not moral
issues but moral philosophy
Often referred to as a second
order theory
Reflects on the more
fundamental aspects of
Meta ethical questions fall into
3 categories: meta-physical,
epistemological and linguistic
Meta-ethics and meta-physics
Concerned with the nature of reality (Realism)
Meta-physical questions could be “do moral properties exist?” “Is
there an objective moral truth?”
Some realists argue that there are objective moral truths
Objective moral truths are those which are mind independent and
not true because we believe they are true
We are not free to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong (moral
This view contrasts with moral subjectivism; this is people who
believe that there are no moral properties in the world, they are antirealists
Anti-realists do not believe that moral judgements state facts about
the world
G.E. Moore was a moral objectivist
Meta-ethics and Epistemology
Focuses on how knowledge is acquired
An example of an epistemological question could be
“how do we know the difference between right and
Questions the nature of moral truths and how knowledge
of them is acquired
Meta-ethics and Language
Linguistic questions look at the nature of moral language
An example of a linguistic ethical question could be: “what are we
doing when we make a moral claim such as ‘killing is wrong’
Language performs many functions such as stating a fact,
expressing an emotion or giving a command
Does ethical language fall into any of these categories?
What function does ethical language perform?
Emotivism is a non-cognitive theory, cognitive theories are allied
with moral realism because they claim that moral statements are
Non cognitive theorists are committed to the view that moral;
statements do no state facts but instead are expressions of
Philosophers associated with the theory are AJ Ayer and GL Moore