Recap Normative Ethics Briefly summarise how the three ethical theories we’ve studied this year believe we should make moral decisions: Utilitarianism Kantian Deontology Virtue Ethics
Recap Normative Ethics What were the good / bad things about each theory? Utilitarianism Kantian Deontology Virtue Ethics
Recap Applied Ethics Briefly explain how each theory might approach the five topics we covered… SK War Crime Lying AR Utilitarianism Kant Virtue Ethics
Meta-Ethics Introduction to key concepts Objectives: a) To grasp the general area of debate that metaethics covers. b) To understand the meaning of 4 key concepts. c) To begin to evaluate these positions.
In groups… 1. Look at the question on your desk. 2. Do you agree with it? Explain to each other why / why not. 3. As a group, list arguments / examples / evidence for and against the statement. 4. Get ready to share your findings with the class.
Questions Is morality discovered or invented?
Questions Are there objective moral values that apply across all races / genders / ages / cultures? Or are they subjective?
Questions Is absolute morality possible? Are there any actions that are wrong intrinsically, regardless of situation?
Some slightly different questions to think about… Are ethical claims statements of belief or statements of fact?
Meta-Ethics Vs Normative Ethics Vs Applied Ethics • Applied ethics (the last topic we did) is a discussion about what we should do in specific situations – using opinions from different religions, or philosophical standpoints to offer suggestions. • Normative ethics (like UT, Kant or VE) looks at accounts of which actions, motives and characters should be seen as right or good. It is concerned with guidance on how we should live / decide what to do. • The final topic we are now moving onto is metaethics. The question we will now be asking is what is morality to start with. What does it mean to call something right or wrong and what is it the origin of our ideas about ethics?
Remember Religious Language Theories in meta-ethics fall into two broad categories that you should remember from last year… • What was cognitivism? • What was non-cognitivism? • How do you think these terms might apply to ethics?
Key Terms - For your notes: Cognitivism Non-cognitivism
Key Terms - For your notes: Cognitivism Non-cognitivism • Cognitivism in ethics is • Non-cognitivism is the view that moral view that ethical judgements are sentences do not propositions which are express propositions ‘truth-apt’– they are so therefore they statements that can be cannot be true or false. considered true or false. What sort of language could moral judgements be, if they’re not propositions?
“Murder is wrong” • Can this statement be true/false? • Is it true/false in the same way that other statements (e. g. This slide background is black) are? • Can you anticipate any problems with the claim that this statement is truth-apt?
Cognitivism So when we say “Stealing is wrong” for example, we are offering a statement that can be considered true or false. It doesn’t matter whether it IS true or false, obviously this is open for debate, just that it’s one or the other. Non-cognitivism For non-cognitivists “Stealing is wrong” does not express a proposition. Instead, they might argue it expresses an emotive attitude, or a prescription to behave in a certain way, but crucially they cannot be considered to be true or false.
Some Questions. . . • If you answered a) for any question then you are a realist about the word in bold • If you answered c) for any question then you are an antirealist about the word in bold • If you generally answered b) – should you really be doing A 2 philosophy? ? ? • If you generally answered d) – you are a hardened cynic – lighten up! From this can you work out what is meant by the terms realism and anti-realism?
Contested term Beauty Realists: Anti-realists: Beautiful things out there in the Our response to objects that we world. have been socially conditioned to call ‘beautiful. Red The property of redness in the world. A mental image or idea of redness. Electron A quantum object in the world which has a negative electrical charge. A term which has a place in a complex theoretical system that usefully explains certain phenomena witnessed in labs. Wrong…
Realism Anti-Realism The view that moral terms refer to something real in the world. The view that moral terms do not refer to real things in the world, but to something else entirely. What could these real things be? What could these other things be? If we say right=x, and x is a real thing in the world, what could x be? If we say right=x, but x is not a real thing in the world, what could x be?
Cognitive Ethics Over the next few weeks we will be covering a number of theories that fit into the different categories we’ve mentioned today: • Naturalistic and non-naturalistic ethics are both cognitive, realist theories. They argue that there are particular properties about the world that our ethical terms pick out, and they can therefore be said to be true or false (or more specifically right or wrong) about those properties. • Error theory is a cognitive, anti-realist view of ethics. Proponents of this view argue that ethical claims are real attempts to make statements about the world. Unfortunately the properties that these claims refer to don’t exist (anti-realism) and therefore the claims are always false (cognitivism).
Non-Cognitive Ethics We’ll also be covering theories from those thinkers who believe ethical claims cannot be considered true or false: • Emotivists argue that moral terms like ‘ wrong’ is simply an expression of feeling or an attitude. It is disapproval of a particular action and can therefore never be true or false. (Example: “Murder is bad” actually means “Boo! Murder!” or “I disapprove of murder”) It’s an anti-realist approach. • Prescriptivists argue that moral claims are attempts to persuade people to act in a certain way. “Murder is bad” essentially means “Don’t murder” – again, as a result of this, these claims cannot be true or false. It’s also an antirealist approach.
Putting it All Together Cognitive Ethical Theories Naturalism Ethical terms refer to natural properties in the world. Error theory Ethical terms refer to no property at all and are always false. Moral Realism: Refer to real properties present Ethical terms refer to non. Non-Naturalism natural properties in the world. Non. Cognitive Ethics Emotivism Ethical language expresses the emotions of the speaker. Prescriptivism Ethical language is a command or recommendation to behave in a certain way. Moral Anti-Realist positions: Refer to nothing real in the world. We can see here that whilst there is some crossover between anti-realism and cognitivism, we’re not discussing a crossover between non-cognitivsm and realism. This is because we’d have to find a view that says ethical claims refer to things in the world but cannot be considered true or false.
Recap Summary Can you define what is meant by the following terms: - Cognitivism - Non-Cognitivism - Realism - Anti-Realism
Where do Bentham, Kant and Aristotle fall? Utilitarianism Cognitivist? (Can moral claims be considered true or false? ) Realist? (Do moral claims refer to things in the world? ) Kantian Deontology Virtue Ethics
Objectives: a) To grasp the general area of debate that meta-ethics covers. b) To understand the meaning of 4 key concepts. c) To begin to evaluate these positions.