Debate On Metaethical Descriptivist Realism Assessment Answer

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Question :

TOPIC for the debate: Metaethical Descriptivist Realism

Opening statement (around 6 minutes- 900 words)

  • In covering the main concepts and principles of the theory, perhaps also placing them in historical context, provide one reason why they think this approach has merit. 
  • NB: Please do not just give a summary of the theory. Rather, argue for a single point about why you think the approach is a good one, drawing on detail as appropriate. 
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Answer :

Meta-ethical Descriptivist Realism


Meta-ethics is more than the language of ethics, which tries to define the meaning of ethical languageThis is an entirely different ethics than normative ethics, which explains what a good moral action is, and also what is a morally wrong act. Metaethics go more in-depth and try to find the solution ("Moral and ethical realism and unbounded organization", 2020). Supposedly if we say something as 'good', why do we say so, if we say 'no' why do we say so? Metaethics find the difference between right and wrong. As the name suggests 'Meta' which is a Greek word signifies beyond, so the meaning of Metaethics is beyond ethics. Indeed, this model does not check whether the action is right or wrong, but it defines the language that we use when we are saying right or wrong. According to some philosophical theory, ethics is cognitive, but morality is subjective, which exists. "Metaethics profoundly and fundamentally doesn't follow universal law of nature, but it depends on personal preference and societal norms" (Björnsson & Olinder, 2016).

The debate establishment begins with realism and beyond the threshold of Metaethics.moral judgement

Figure 1: Represents the moral judgements.

(Source: "Moral Realism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy", 2020).Agreement to non-descriptivism

Figure 2: Agreement to non-descriptivism that fundamentally disobeys universal laws.

(Source: "Moral Realism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy", 2020).indeterminate realism and projectivism

Figure 3: Describes indeterminate realism and projectivism that denies fundamental universal laws.

(Source: "Moral Realism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy", 2020). principles of cognitivism and descriptivism

Figure 4: When this final agreement is reached, we follow the principles of cognitivism and descriptivism to explain our personal preference and societal norms.

(Source: "Moral Realism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy", 2020).


The merits of Metaethics are usually explained with the theories of cognition and non-cognition. According to (Richards, 2019) descriptivist meta-ethical approach says about cognitivism that, in reality, discusses how the meta-ethics is applied rather than discussing what is good and what is not good. Meta-ethics approach in depth for ethical actions and when morality is concerned in every day’s life (Richards, 2019).  

According to (Fritz, 2017) pragmatic encroachment, practical encroachment, and every theory needs to follow some universal laws. Not being an exception, meta-ethics also follows some universal laws of nature but not fundamentally. Fundamental approaches make theory confined in some basic rules. For the application of such theories or principles, there might be some violations to the fundamentals, but it meets the objectives of the application of the thesis (Fritz, 2017). This fundamentally relates to the fact that morality and its encroachment is directly dependent on the person's opinion and the notion from society matters. 

According to (Köhler, 2016) ethical approaches depend on personal preferences. Not everyone's proper knowledge is the same. As a human being, his or her moral actions are sometimes driven by cognitive judgments, and that's how he or she takes good actions ethically. The personal preferences make some situational decisions which are beyond the so-called ethics.

In society, there are certain norms. The good action is described as good by some societal norms. There are some informal beliefs based on which behaviours of the human are governed. Tradition, custom, and moral values are considered as the cultural products which make the individual make ethical decisions based on the activities of others. The activities of others are governed by individual perceptions, which are the products of societal norms, and that's where ethics lie. They are fundamental beyond description (Köhler, 2016).

The meta-ethics is a vast concept rather than it appears. The ethical theories support moral actions. Societal values define good actions as good actions supported by human perceptions. For meta-ethical approaches, there might arise the conflict between social perceptions and societal norms. According to societal norms, getting married more than once is against ethics. But the inhibited nature of polygamy in humans faces conflicts with it.

With a variety of the significant number of ethics, the cognitive is a quixotic thing to be described. The Metaethics does not always discuss what is good and what is not; it often describes how it can be applied to a model. The ethical sentences often express their propositions which might be true sometimes but sometimes not. Often cognitivism is considered as the denial of noncognitivism. Cognitivism counterparts of non-cognition straight away protests the realism and beyond with effect of fundamental and universal laws that humans believe exists in this paradoxical world. They are to be followed and obeyed by all the species in their survival game should not be considered as the realism species which is contradictory to Richard's point of view (Pölzler & Cole Wright, 2020).

To oppose and contradict (Fritz, 2017) the moral variety of non- cognitivism can be differentiated while focusing on the positive claim which explains the moral expression and also the nature of mental health. Although the ethical approach is determined to make clear decisions for the best result for everyone, there are some disadvantages to this, and this also makes a counter on Richard's point of view (Schechter, 2019). Some examples can be taken as if it can be assumed that harming an innocent creature is a subject of brutality. Is it harmful to use mice for experiments that might save human lives? Is it ethical to allow an innocent creature to die, assuming that killing is unethical? Though, all things are not equal, which determines the true ethical route. The disadvantage of these ethical approaches is it requires the comprehensive support of management which is useful. It is going to be time-consuming and expensive while developing, implementing, and maintaining the ethical compliance program. The cognitivist understands moral judgment which is the base of moral value (Clark, 2020).

Meta-ethics is a broad concept to understand it properly. The moral practice does not commit people to mind-independent moral truth. According to Non-cognitivists, moral rules are appropriately understood as the expression of people's value. To conclude, Metaethics is highly abstract, and its judges the best might depend on all Metaethical questions. This is the counter effect of Kohler. 

(Railton, 1986) states that there is the existence of moral properties in the world independent of humans. As per ethical considerations, an act cannot be described as wrong, but the moral intentions that are behind the commitment of the act can be wrong. Railton is in favour of mind-independent moral truth that is believed to exist in the world. The realists consider independent moral truth most significant and thus the occurrence of error.


Meta-ethics define good and bad ethical actions. The concurrency of the cognitive approaches and subjective activities makes moral decisions followed by ethical theories. The topic discusses meta-ethical descriptivist realism. The descriptivist process defines the application of the theories in reality. The descriptivist approach of the meta-ethics argues about the constraints of its application. The fundamentals of ethics sometimes put restrictions on some activities, but the actions are based on the situational or conceptual approaches. Hardcore maintenance of any theory does not show the right paths always. No such theory exists as flawless. The contradictory actions sometimes make someone come out with flying colours. Human perceptions are judgemental, but the decisions are sometimes taken based on self-beliefs which might or might not support the ethical theories. And the societal values and products force humans to take good actions that are defined as good, but it might not help the individual's perception.