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Intuitionism

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By agowrea12
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• Naturalism held that ethical terms could be explained in the same ‘natural’ terms as science or maths. Ethics, they said, was about observation and analysis.

• GE Moore, in Principia Ethica (1903) famously refuted naturalism. He said that you can’t move from is to ought. In other words, any observation of how people actually behave cannot tell us about how people SHOULD behave. He called this the ‘naturalistic fallacy’.

• Moore went on to say that ‘good’ is indefinable. In the same way as yellow is just, well, yellow, ‘good’ is not a complex term that can be broken down further, you just recognise that something is good by intuition. If ‘good’ was a complex idea, we could ask of it whether it was itself good. For example, Bentham defined well as pleasure (the greatest pleasure for the greatest number). But you can ask “Is pleasure good?” Because the question makes sense, pleasure can’t mean the same as good.

• HA Prichard said there were two kinds of thinking: reason brought together the facts about a situation, and intuition perceived the right thing to do.

• WD Ross argued that moral principles can’t be absolute, as they can contradict one another He said that we have prima facie (at first appearance) duties: keeping promises, making up for harm done, gratitude, justice, beneficence, self-improvement and non-maleficence. Intuition identifies our prima facie duties, but when they conflict, we need to use our own judgment to determine which obligation is our absolute duty.…...

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