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Meta-Ethics Emotivism. What is Emotivism? Emotivism is a meta-ethical theory associated mostly with A. J. Ayer (1910-1989) and C.L Stevenson (1908-1979)

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Presentation on theme: "Meta-Ethics Emotivism. What is Emotivism? Emotivism is a meta-ethical theory associated mostly with A. J. Ayer (1910-1989) and C.L Stevenson (1908-1979)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Meta-Ethics Emotivism

2 What is Emotivism? Emotivism is a meta-ethical theory associated mostly with A. J. Ayer ( ) and C.L Stevenson ( ) Emotivists claim that there is no moral law in the universe Emotivists claim that there are no objective moral facts They claim that moral statements are expressions of our feelings towards a particular issue such as abortion Emotivism questions the nature and validity of ethical language It questions what we are doing when we make moral claims such as ‘killing is wrong’ Emotivists such as Ayer say that moral statements are not factual There are no facts that can be verified as true or false in the statements ‘killing is wrong’

3 Emotivism They say that value (moral) statements are meaningless because they are incapable of being verified as true or false Emotivists claim that factual and value statements are distinct from one another Meaningful statements can be true by definition (all cats are feline) or true by empirical means Because moral statements do not state facts and fail the verification test they are meaningless according to Emotivists They do accept that moral language/statements have a purpose however The purpose is to express an emotional response to a situation and to evince the same feelings in others “If I think killing is wrong, then so should you”

4 Boo/Hooray Theory You go to a football match to support your team, obviously you want them to win. During the match your team scores and you cheer. You show support for your team. In the second half the other team score and you boo them. The Boo/Hooray Theory is the idea that if you make a moral statement such as ‘capital punishment should never be legalised’ you are saying ‘boo’ to capital punishment. Or, if you say ‘abortion is wrong’ you are saying ‘boo’ to abortion. Emotivists claim that moral statements are the same as saying boo or hooray; they are a response to a particular issue. According to Emotivism, moral statements are expressions of our feelings and do not come from somewhere outside of our own minds.

5 ‘Morality is Subjective’ Emotivists would claim that morality does not exists outside of our minds. Ayer believed that morality comes from inside ourselves. A moral statement is a response that we feel and we make the claim through language. We may have a strong feeling about abortion for example, if we express that view we make a value statement that relates directly to how we feel, therefore, morality is subjective, it is subject to how we personally feel.

6 Summary of Main Points Emotivism is a non-cognitive theory Specifically concerned with the nature and function of ethical language Questions what we are doing when we make moral claims Often referred to as a second order theory because its subject matter is moral philosophy itself There are no moral objective facts in the world The world of facts and values are distinct from each other Meaningful statements can be verified as true or false Moral statements are meaningless because they are incapable of being true or false Moral claims are an attempt to express a feeling or emotion Moral statements do have a function but they are meaningless


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