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Ethical Language Has No Meaning


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Ethical language has no meaning. Discuss (35 Marks)

The meaning and function of ethical language is the focus of meta-ethics. It can be discussed whether ethical language has any meaning at all by looking at different perspectives.

An ethical naturalist would say that all ethical statements are the same as non-ethical ones; they’re factual and can, therefore, be true or false. So ‘Thomas More was executed for his beliefs in 1535’ and ‘Thomas More was a good man’ can be proved true or false by looking at the evidence. If we can find evidence, we can conclude that Thomas More was good and if not, we can conclude he was not. The same holds for any moral issue for example if one wants to know if euthanasia is right or wrong. They simply look at the evidence so they can test the accuracy of the statement, and from this they could argue that euthanasia ends suffering for an individual, therefore euthanasia is right.
Ethical naturalist is an objective and cognitive theory, which means that they claim that there are moral facts and that they can be known, perhaps through reason, or through revelation and that they are true for everyone, for all time. Therefore ethical naturalists see ethical language as meaningful because they argue that ethical language has an underlined content of purpose. For example a knife is good if it cuts sharply. Therefore ethical language is showing what terms such as ‘good’ mean through the content of purpose within an ethical statement and is therefore meaningful in making us understand ethical terms such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
However, ethical Naturalists disregard the complexity of ethical language. This critique is put forward by G.E. Moore, an intuitionist. G.E. Moore, whose work is influenced by David Hume, is an intuitionist, he wrote the book Principia Ethica; his theory is cognitive and objective. He argues that it is wrong to derive

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