The Importance of Understanding Metaethics

Another way to practice ethics as a science is by understanding a meta-ethics. The prefix meta-(from Greek) means “beyond”, “after”. This term was created to show that morality is not directly discussed, but our remarks in the field of morality. Meta-ethics as if moving at a higher level than ethical behavior, namely at the level of “ethical language” or language that we use in the field of morals. Also, can be said that meta-ethics is learning about special logic of ethical utterances. In terms of grammar, it seems that ethical sentences do not differ from the other sentences (particularly, sentences which express facts). But a deeper study could show that sentences in general ethics and ethical language has certain characteristics that are not owned by the other sentences. Meta-ethics pay his attention to the special meaning of ethic languages. British philosopher George Moore (1873-1958), for example, wrote a famous book consists the importance of word analysis in the context of ethics, the word named “good”. He did not ask whether a particular behavior may be called good. More concrete way: He does not ask whether the donor organs for patients transplanted may be called either from a moral point and whether the conditions that can be called a good (if it still works well, how if the organ is for sale?). He asked whether the meaning of the word “good”, when used in the context of ethical He only highlight a special meaning of the word “good” by comparing the sentence “to be an organ donor is a good deed” with other types of sentences like “this car is still in good condition “.

This meta-ethics can be placed in the context of “analytic philosophy”, an important subject in the 20th century of philosophical history. Analytic philosophy considering that analysis language as the important task for philosophy or even the only task. The current started to grow in England in early 20th century and George Moore had been one of forerunner. From the England, analytic philosophy extends to many other countries, also in the English-speaking countries (such as the United States and Australia)this notion is always be strongest position. as well as meta-ethics. Since docking with this analytic philosophy, sometimes meta-ethics is also called “analytic ethics”.

One of the big problems discussed in meta-ethics is the is / ought question. Which issued here is whether normative speech can be derived from factual speech. If something exists or if something is a fact (is: factual), we could see if it can be concluded that something must or should be (ought: normative). By using the logical term it can be asked too whether the two descriptive premises can be a  prescriptive conclusion. If one prescriptive premise  and the others are descriptive premises, the conclusion must be prescriptive. That’s not a problem. For example:

-Every man must respect his parents (descriptive premise).
-This man is my parents (descriptive premise).
-So, this guy should I respect (prescriptive conclusion)

But the point is whether the two descriptive premises can produce  prescriptive conclusion or not. Now the philosophers who studied this issue generally agree that it is not possible. Prescriptive conclusions can be drawn only from the premises for at least partially prescriptive, too.

Finally there is a note about relationship between meta-ethics and normative ethics. Although even here we distinguish between meta-ethics from normative ethics, but that does not mean that they always be separated as well. Because, if we talk about moral language, our conversation can be easily turned to what is indicated by the language, which is itself a moral behavior. As we studied the ethical utterances, with almost no conscious we can begin to assess what was discussed. And conversely, if we talk about moral behavior, we naturally reflect on the terms and language we use. If we try to define the ethical notions such as “norm”, “value”, “right”, “justice”, or some kind like that, the effort could be classified in the meta-ethics, but in normative ethics it is inevitable to formulate definitions as such . We must recognize that a sharp and definitive boundary line can not be drawn from comparison between normative ethics and meta-ethics.

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Satu tanggapan untuk “The Importance of Understanding Metaethics”

  1. October 9th, 2009 at 08:31 | #1

    beda antara norma, nilai, etika

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