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Flashcards in Moral Realism Deck (6)
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1

Outline cognitivism and non-cognitivism and an example of a statement from each perspective.

-Cognitivism: Moral judgements express cognitive mental states (I.e. beliefs), aim to describe reality, and can be true or false.
-‘I believe triangles have 3 sides.’
-‘Torturing animals is wrong’.

-Non-Cognitivism: Moral judgements express non-cognitivism mental states, do not aim to describe reality, and are not capable of being true or false.
-‘Boo’. ‘Hurrah’.

2

What are the 3 cognitivist theories and the 3 non-cognitivist theories?

-Cognitivist:
-Naturalism- Moral properties are natural properties.
-Non-naturalism- Moral properties are non-natural properties.
-Error Theory- Moral properties don’t exist.

-Non-cognitivist:
-Emotivism
-Prescriptivism

3

Outline and explain Ethical Naturalism and state the 3 challenges against it.

-Ethical naturalism: moral properties are natural properties.

-So, “murder is wrong” expresses a belief that murder is wrong – where ‘wrong’ refers to a natural property.

-It’s a reductionist theory: it says moral properties can be reduced to natural properties. These properties exist and are mind-independent. Hence, ethical naturalism is a moral realist theory.
-Utilitarianism is an example of a naturalist ethical theory. It says ‘good’ can be reduced to pleasure, and ‘bad’ can be reduced to pain.

-Natural properties are ordinary, physical properties. Pain and pleasure, for example, are natural properties of the brain – a physical thing.

-PROBLEMS FOR ETHICAL NATURALISM:
-The naturalistic fallacy (see non-naturalism)
-The is-ought problem (see emotivism)
-The verification principle (see emotivism)

4

Outline Ethical Non-Naturalism.

-Ethical non-naturalism: moral properties are non-natural properties.

-So, “murder is wrong” expresses a belief that murder is wrong – where ‘wrong’ refers to a non-natural property.

-Non-natural moral properties cannot be reduced to anything simpler. They are basic.

-However, these non-natural moral properties exist independently of minds. Hence, ethical non-naturalism is a moral realist theory.

5

What is G.E.Moore’s naturalistic fallacy? What are his main arguments for this?

-He invents the term ‘Naturalistic fallacy’ to describe the fallacy (i.e. bad reasoning) of equating goodness with some natural property. His main arguments for the naturalistic fallacy are:

-Moral properties may be correlated with natural properties, but are not identical to them. For example, having a heart is correlated with also having kidneys, but hearts are not the same thing as kidneys. Similarly, happiness may often accompany morally good actions, but they are not the same thing.

-Moore’s ‘open question’ argument: if goodness and pleasure are the same thing, it wouldn’t make sense to ask ‘is pleasure good?’, because it would basically be like asking ‘is pleasure pleasure?’. But because the question ‘is pleasure good?’ does make sense, this proves that pleasure and good are not the same thing.

-Reply to open question argument: It makes sense to ask ‘is water H2O?’ even though they refer to the same thing. The fact that this question does make sense does not prove that water and H2O are two separate things. So how can Moore’s argument (which follows the same format) prove that goodness and pleasure are two separate things?
-Moore argues that moral properties cannot be reduced to anything simpler, such as pain or pleasure. Moral properties are basic.

6

What is Moore’s intuitionism and what is a response to it? And then what is Moore’s reply to the challenge.

-Having argued against ethical naturalism, Moore sets out his own version of ethical non-naturalism, which he calls intuitionism.

-We might ask Moore: if moral properties are non-natural properties, how do we know about them?

-It’s no mystery how we know about natural properties, such as blueness, roundness, or largeness. But non-natural properties are more difficult to explain – they’re not like ordinary physical properties that can be scientifically investigated.

-Moore’s response to this problem is intuition. He argues that, via the faculty of rational intuition, we can directly reflect on the truth of moral judgements such as “murder is wrong”. The truth/falsehood of such moral judgements is said to be self evident.