Meta-ethics is the branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, and ethical statements, attitudes, and judgments. Meta-ethics as a discipline gained attention with G.E. Moore's famous work Principia Ethica from 1903 in which Moore first addressed what he referred to as the naturalistic fallacy. Moore's rebuttal of naturalistic ethics, his Open Question Argument sparked an interest within the analytic branch of western philosophy to concern oneself with second order questions about ethics; specifically the semantics, epistemology and ontology of ethics.
Normative ethics often called moral theory was the study of what behaviors or motifs make actions right or wrong. The theories served as an umbrella principle that could be used to settle tough moral issues.
The turn of the 20th century, saw moral theorists becoming more complex. By then they no longer concerned themselves solely with rightness and wrongness, but are interested in many different kinds of moral status. In the middle of the 20th century, the study of normative ethics declined as meta-ethics grew in prominence.
Socrates a Greek philosopher (469 BC – 399 BC) was one of the first to encourage both scholars and the common citizen to turn their attention from the outside world to the condition of humankind. He placed all knowledge that have influence on human life in the highest hierarchy and other knowledge as less important. Explaining further he stated that someone who is self aware will rise to the top of their potential while an ignorant person will flounder and have a tough life. Socrates, believes that for someone to have self knowledge, he must know every fact and the contents of the facts that control his existence; Socrates believes by nature, a person will do good if they are aware of the right things: that those who do bad do so because of their ignorance. Socrates believes that to have knowledge is to also be virtuous and also that to have virtue is also to attain happiness.
Aristotle: In Aristotle’s view, an ethical system (self realization philosophy) people who follow their natural abilities also and attain their full potential culminating in their doing good and achieving contentment. He postulates that when a baby is first born, he/she is yet to be a person, but rather one who has the potential to be a person. To be a "real" person, he /she must first realize his/her inherent potential. He concludes that an Unhappy and frustrated person is a result of failed goals and aspirations, frustrated potentials and poor living. In order to be good therefore people must live according to their nature, develop their talent and the feeling of contentment and completeness will be the result. Aristotle believes that social life and wealth are nothing but means to reach someone’s goal and that self realization is what gives happiness.
Aristotle believes humans have three natures: physical which he coined...