Ethical Language Is Subjective. Discuss

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Ethical language is subjective. Discuss. ( 35 marks) This statement is asking whether the meaning of terms like good/ bad right wrong exist independent of us or whether they are simply expressions of an individuals’ mood, experience or perception. Having studied a number of meta ethical approaches: I disagree that ethical language is subjective and side with intuitionism, that ethical knowledge is objective, yet indefinable like the colour yellow. G.E Moore begins by rejecting ethical naturalism, the belief that ethical knowledge is based on empirical evidence. ethical naturalism observes that physical properties such as rough, smooth can be discovered through observations in the world around us; in the same way moral properties such as wicked or kind can be defined through observation. Moore felt to define an ethical statement as a factual one, is to confuse goodness with some other non- moral property. For example, to describe a knife as good is to confuse the term good with the term sharp. From this Moore claimed that it is impossible to derive an ‘is from an ought’. This criticism became known as the naturalistic fallacy. In addition to this G.E Moore claimed that naturalism was not able to stand up to the open question argument. ethical naturalism claims to be based on moral facts, it would therefore seem logical that these facts should stand up to scrutiny. Yet, if we observe that pleasure is good, we should be able to ask is good pleasure. However if an individual gains pleasure through inflicting harm can we conclude that good and pleasure are one and the same thing? In short ethical naturalism is unable to define good, yet continues to claim that ethical language is based on objective truth. Non Cognitive approaches to meta ethics such as emotivism and prescriptivism argue that ethical language is subjective. A. J. Ayer claims that ethical language
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