Critically assess the view that the word “good” has no real meaning (35 marks)

Topics: Morality, Meta-ethics, Ethics Pages: 3 (2127 words) Published: October 31, 2014

Critically assess the view that the word “good” has no real meaning (35 marks) Meta ethics looks at ethical language and helps us to identify whether the word good is meaningful. Analytical statements are sentences that are true because of the relationship between the subject and the predicate. Analytical statements are usually self-explanatory, e.g. all carnivores eat meat; we know what a carnivore eats which is meat, the subject is the carnivore and the predicate here is the meat. Analytical statements are logic based, they tell us about language but little meaningful information about the world. Also no additional meaning or knowledge is contained in the predicate that is not already given in the subject. Synthetic sentences may or may not be true as It would need non-linguistic information about the subject the speaker is referring to. Synthetic statements are based on our sensory data and experience. The truth-value of synthetic statements cannot be figured out based solely on logic as these are descriptions of the world which cannot be taken for granted. The truth of synthetic sentences is based on what is happening in the world, not on what is happening in the language. E.g. all men are arrogant, how do we know that all men are arrogant? We can’t take this sentence for granted as we don’t know all men; it’s a highly generalized statement which we are unable to verify. Non-cognitivists argue that the word good has no real meaning as it’s a subjective statement and an expression of emotion. Subjective statements are those based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. Non-cognitivists believe that ethical concepts are simply subjective feelings or opinions. E.g. when you say ‘Murder is bad’, you are expressing an opinion that killing someone is not intrinsically bad but you disapprove of it. Therefore the statement ‘Murder is bad’ cannot be said to be true or false. Morality is simply a matter of personal opinion, so you cannot verify...
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