According to this view, ethical sentences can be translated into non-ethnical sentences, without changing the meaning- just as ‘yard’ can be replaced by ‘three feet’. Let us examine the different theories.
(a) The autographical definition:
According to this theory, when I say that certain act is right and saying that I approve it, means the same thing. When I say it is right, I am not saying anything about the quality of the act. I am only saying that I have a certain attitude towards it.
This view is open to several objections:
(1) It is true still no act is right or wrong. There are only favourable or unfavourable attitudes towards them. If I want to know whether an act is wrong, I have to introspect and see whether I approve it. If I approve it today and disapprove it tomorrow. If I approve it and you do not approve it, it is right for me and wrong for you. Anything even killing is right because I approve it. This is not cause. The reverse is the case. A person may say I approve this because it is right, and that it is right because I approve it.
Again my approval may be wrong. I may approve an act which is wrong, I may approve an act without knowing that it is right. Again, when we say that A is based on B. this does not mean that A is something as B. I approve an action because it is right. My approval of an action is dependent on its being right. So right is not the something as of the view under consideration is true, then there can be no disagreement about the matters of Ethics. If A says that the of X is right, because he approves it, then is B says that the act X is wrong because he disapproves it, these two propositions can both be true simultaneously.
(b) The Sociological Definition:
According to this definition, X is right means the same as, ‘as majority of people approve X’, but how do you find out what is right? By a poll? But why should majority approval make an act right? The majority may be stupid, unentightened. The ethical ideal is not decided by majority approval.
(c) The theoretical definition:
According to this definition, to say that X is right is to say that God approves it or commands it. X is right is not an empirical statement, but a theological statement.
According to view, all ethical statements disguised theological statements, If a person say, that something is right but does not believe in God is statement is not only false, but self-contradictory, because he would be saying that God approves something, but God does not exist. But non-believers have their views about right and wrong.
To define right in this way is arbitrary. It may by that everything God approves is right and vice versa, but is God’s approval of what is meant by saying that is right? So this doctrine is disapproved.
(d) The ideal observer definition:
According to this view, to say that X is right is to say that not I or you or the majority but an ideal observer would approve X. What is an ideal observer?
Briefly an ideal observer (judge) is one who (i) is an impartial in regard to the question facing him, (ii) has full knowledge of the facts of the situation being judged and (iii) can imaginatively identify with every person involved in the question. If a person possessed these characteristics he would be a perfect moral judge of any situation. His judgement is infallible.
This theories undoubtedly an improvement over the previous ones. But no such ideal observer exists, since no one in the world in completely impartial, fully knowledgeable and capable of full imaginative identification. But the theory does not require the existence of such a being. It only says, if there were such a being, then his judgement would be correct. The theory does not so here. It further says that the ideal observer’s judgement is not only correct in every case, but this is so by definition that is the very meaning of the sentence ‘X is right.’ Here we may object. What the ideal judgement says is correct. But this is not the meaning of saying that the act X is right.
(e) Utilitarian definition:
According to this definition, ‘X is right’ means the same as ‘X will promote the maximum happiness’. It has at least the merit of defining ‘right’ is terms some property of the act itself. An act is right if it has such and such consequences, those producing the maximum possible happinessed for all concerned. If we say maximum possible good we could be defining one ethical term right through the use of another, good and our definition would not be naturalistic. But many ethical philosophers are not utilitarians. They say certain act is right but does not produce maximum happiness. Are they wrong? But according to this theory their view is not only wrong, but selfcontradictory.