All Ethical Language Is Prescriptive

1119 Words5 Pages
Meta ethics is the study of ethical language; however it differs from normative ethics. Normative ethics determines what is “good” and “bad”, whereas Meta ethics determines the meanings of the terms “good” and “bad”. There are two ethical approaches to Meta ethics, one being Cognitivism. Cognitivism is the view that ethical language can be known and understood objectively, through empirical experience or intuition. The second approach is Non-Cognitivism, this is the view that ethical language cannot be known and understood, due to subjectivity. One Cognitivism theory is that of Ethical Naturalism, it states that one can determine the moral value of an object or person simply through empirical observation. For example one can determine that “the knife is good, because it is sharp”. The term good here denotes that the object serves its purpose and is of use. In the writings of Principa Ethica(1903);G.E Moore criticises the cognitive stance of Ethical naturalism of Naturalistic fallacy. Here Moore claims that one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”, this meaning that one cannot move from a fact to a moral judgment as, he saw this as logically inconsistent. For example one cannot say that ethical language or moral terms are similar to natural properties. This would deduce them to as meaningless. In fact, Moore claims that ethical language is similar to simple concepts, by this he means that one can only determine the meaning of ethical language in association with another object. For example the colour “yellow” can only be understood in comparison to another object such as a “lemon”. Similarly, good is like “yellow”, non divisible and can only be understood in relation to something else. In regards to understanding ethical language, G.E.Moore derived the second stance to Cognitivism; Intuitionism. Moore states that one has innate and intuitive knowledge of
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