Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on philosophy-contemporary ethical theory4. The ethical realist believes that ethical statements are descriptions of the states of the world, hence are like other fact-stating assertions, true or false independently of the beliefs of the speaker (O’ Neill: 163).

According to G.E. Moore’s (1873-1958) intuitionism, good is a simple, unanalysable property similar to a primary colour. Adapting a version of Utilitarianism, Moore believed that right acts are those that produce the most good. but he stated that goodness cannot be defined or identified with a natural property such as pleasure. Moore, an ethical intuitionist believed that good could be understood directly, through moral intuition, so that it is possible to say whether a moral statement is true or false. The simple notion of describing goodness when it is seen, is like trying to define the colour yellow. It is not possible to define the color yellow, but only by showing someone an example can the color yellow or similarly the concept of goodness be explained (Oliphant & Mayled: 10).

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W.D. Ross’ (1877-1971) intuitionism also believed, like Moore that “right” and “obligatory” are as indefinable as “good”, and stated that certain types of actions called prima facie duties were right. Ross’ seven classes of prima facie duties were: duties of fidelity, reparation when we have done something wrong, gratitude, justice, beneficence or helping others, self-improvement, and duties of non-maleficence or not harming others. When these prima facie duties, which mean duties at first sight, oppose each other, it is essential to follow the one which is right for the situation. Hence, one prima facie duty may have to give way to another. However, deciding on which one to obey in cases of conflict, depended on a person’s moral maturity, realization of self-evident truths and intuition (Oliphant & Mayled: 12).

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