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AQA A Level RS (ethics and philosophy) > Meta Ethics > Flashcards

Flashcards in Meta Ethics Deck (11)
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Ethical naturalism: utilitarianism

Human lives revolve around maximising pleasure and minimising pain
“Man kind is placed under 2 sovereign masters: pleasure and pain”

Sole intrinsic good= happiness


General benevolence principle:

“Always act in a way that maximises pleasure and minimises pain for the greatest number”


Hedonic calculus:

Pain can be measured according to Bentham:
Intensity and duration

All pleasure is the same: quantitive

And the pleasure of each individual should count equally
“Individual rights are nonsense on stilts”


John Stuart Mill:

Not all pleasure and pain are equal and therefore cannot be measured

Higher pleasures: intellectuals and aesthetic (eg art and music)

Lower pleasures: physical

“Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a satisfied swine”

Rule utilitarian


Harm principle:

“The state has no right to intervene with individuals unless it is to prevent direct harm to others”

Eg do not murder etc


Non naturalism

Cognitive:either objectively true or false
Moral values based on facts and so are open to objective assessment of their truth or falsehood


G.E. Moore intuitionism:

‘Good’ is an irreducible term

Therefore cannot be broken down or analysed but can be recognised and understood
Eg colour yellow
Cannot break down to explain further but once yellow objects are pointed out we understand what it is and recognise it

Human knowledge of right and wrong does not comes through logical deductions of the world or human experience but through moral intuition

Moral sense tells us what is right or wrong


W.D. Ross prima facie duties

Moore’s theory: people disagree about what is right or wrong

Intuitions point in different directions

Ross: In some situations there are conflicting duties and that it isn’t always obvious which should take precedence:

6 prima facie duties:
Keeping promises
Paying back harm done to others
Not injuring others
Not harming innocent people
Look after parents
Returning favours

Intuitionism is how they choose between conflicting duties
If no conflict in 6 duties practice them all= absolute

If conflict intuition will tell what takes priority


Naturalistic fallacy: GE Moore

Accused naturalistic theories of committing “naturalistic fallacy”

Fallacy to argue from facts to moral claims. ‘Ought’ cannot be derived from ‘is’


Divine Command Theory:

Cognitive theory
Objective right and wrong that can be shown as true or false

Commands come from god, religious ethics so non naturalist

The fall meant humans are totally reliant upon gods grace to have any understanding of what is right and wrong

Come in 2 ways:

> special revelation: through scripture which is infallible word of god
> conscience: voice of god speaking directly to humans in prayer and enabling them to interpret scripture

Bible= absolute authority
What is right is what god says is right
Eg do not murder exodus 20

Calvin: flowing naturally from belief in absolute sovereignty of god
Barth: humanity’s obedience to god was the answer to all ethical questions


Plato: Euthyphro’s Dilemma

Is something right because says it’s right? God could command something immoral and it would have to be right

God command something because it is right? Morality therefore is independent of God so no longer omnipotent