“Metaethics” means “about ethics”.
Metaethics tries to figure out, why we consider some actions good and others evil. – Hi, I am Dushan Wegner, let me help you know good and evil, in 10 simple steps!
- Everyone is part of structures, e.g. the family, a company, a society, but also ways of thinking or of course their own body.
- Some structures are relevant (e.g. the family for a baby), others feel very relevant (e.g. an ideology) – sometimes it overlaps, sometimes it doesn’t.
- Some structures do not feel relevant, e.g. because we are not aware of them, but they are very much relevant (e.g. the water supply), other structures feel very relevant, but are not actually relevant (e.g. because they do not exist, like the protagonist of a novel). Congruence of actually relevant and emotionally relevant structures may be a sign of wisdom.
- The relevance of some structure types is innate in most people, e.g. the relevance of the structure “children / preservation-of-the-species”.
- Changes are ethical issues if they strengthen or weaken a structure that is relevant (to us). To strengthen/ weaken a structure means to make its continued existence more probable/ endanger it.
- We call an action “good” when it strengthens a structure that feels relevant to us.
- We call an action “evil” when it weakens a structure that feels relevant to us.
- In order to manipulate people or to persuade them (including yourself), you have to make the structures affected by change feel relevant and/or show the consequences of pending changes to relevant structures.
- In order to know yourself, you have to become aware of which structures both feel and are relevant to you.
- The great ethical truths and universal values can be spelled out like this: "It has been shown that at the end of their days and after careful consideration, many people considered these structures to be maximally relevant and therefore wanted to see them strengthened."
I have put forward this explanation of ethics (ergo: this metaethics) in my German book “Relevante Strukturen”. For traditional explanations of metaethics please see Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or Wikipedia.
metaethics.org is hosted by Github Pages (privacy). And yes, I also own metaethics.net and metaethics.com. I believe that thinking about the nature of ethics will become quite important – maybe it already is.