Good Cannot Be Known. Discuss

Good Cannot Be Known. Discuss

  • Submitted By: zazastern
  • Date Submitted: 11/28/2013 3:18 PM
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Words: 1128
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‘Good cannot be known’. Discuss [35]
Meta ethics analyses ethical language and goes beyond ethical theories to look at the terms used in ethics. It questions what the language means. Meta ethics is divided into two categories- ethical cognitivism, being a theory that ‘good’ can be derived from sense experience and ethical non cognitivism, a theory that ‘good’ cannot be derived from sense experience.
The cognitivist approach of meta ethics suggests that ethical statements are about facts that can either be proven true or false. Naturalism, a cognitive theory holds that non ethical statements can be verified or falsified as they are factual. F.H Bradly proposes that, to know something is ‘good’, one must look at the evidence to test the veracity of the statement. Thus, one could argue that euthanasia ends the suffering of an individual; therefore euthanasia is right, therefore euthanasia is ‘good’.

G.E. Moore however, identifies a flaw in ethical naturalism. He bases his argument on David Hume, who thinks that one cannot derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ as it logically invalid. Moore states that moral statements cannot be verified or falsified using evidence; this is known as the naturalistic fallacy. For instance, if we claim that happiness is naturally a good thing, we could then ask ‘Is happiness a good thing?’ Moore uses the ‘open question argument’ and explains that there is a possibility of people having different opinions, so moving from a factual objective statement to an ethical one of values leaves an open question that has not been answered. This is known as Humes fork and implies ‘good’ cannot be known.

Moore believes ‘good’ is indefinable, but that there are objective moral truths that are known by intuition. He develops a cognitive theory of intuitionism; the theory holds that although we cannot tell whether something is ‘good’ through our senses, we can use our ‘moral intuition’ and so can still determine if something is ‘good’. Moore called...

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