To What Extent Is Ethical Language Meaningful?

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Meta ethics tries to make sense of the terms and concepts used in ethical theories. Some people believe that ethical language is extremely meaningful as they argue it is essential to be able to define terms such as “good” and “bad” before we can even begin to discuss ethical theories. However others disagree with this and argue that moral statements are subjective so cannot be meaningful as they cannot be described as either true or false. Those who hold cognitive theories about ethical language would argue that ethical statements are meaningful as they are about facts and can therefore be proved true or false. Ethical Naturalism is a cognitive theory of Meta ethics which holds the belief that ethical statements are the same as non ethical ones, so can be verified or falsified in the same way. For example those looking to find out if euthanasia is right or wrong could look at evidence in order to verify or falsify the statement. If this evidence led to the conclusion that euthanasia ends the suffering of an individual then they could argue that euthanasia is right. This can be used as an argument for the meaningfulness of ethical language as being able to prove what is right or wrong can teach us how to act in an ethical way. G.E Moore argued against Ethical Naturalism as he believed that defining concepts such as ‘good’ are impossible and any attempt to define ‘good’ is to commit The Naturalistic Fallacy. The Naturalistic Fallacy is one of the main criticisms of Ethical Naturalism and would therefore suggest that ethical language is not very meaningful as it cannot be correctly defined. Moore believed there are moral properties, so ethical language is not completely devoid of meaning but it is limited as ‘good’ is a non-natural property which cannot be defined. Moore disagreed that ethical language could prove whether something is moral or
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