Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Michael Lacewing Emotivism Michael Lacewing

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Michael Lacewing Emotivism Michael Lacewing"— Presentation transcript:

1 Michael Lacewing
Emotivism Michael Lacewing

2 Cognitivism v. non-cognitivism
What are we doing when we make moral judgments? Cognitivism: moral judgments, e.g. ‘Murder is wrong’ Aim to describe how the world is Can be true or false Express beliefs that the claim is true Non-cognitivism: moral judgments Do not aim to describe the world Cannot be true or false Express attitudes towards the world

3 Subjectivism Moral judgements assert or report approval or disapproval
E.g. ‘X is wrong’ means ‘Most people disapprove of X’ This is a cognitivist theory Obj: racism is wrong, even though, historically, most people have approved of it

4 Speaker subjectivism ‘X is wrong’ means ‘I disapprove of X’
Again, cognitivism Obj: (if we know what we think) we cannot make moral mistakes Why deliberate? Emotivism: Moral judgments cannot be true or false ‘X is wrong’ expresses disapproval of X

5 Ayer’s emotivism The verification principle: a statement only has meaning if it is either analytic or empirically verifiable Moral judgments are not analytic and cannot be shown to be true or false by empirical verification Therefore, they are literally meaningless, stating neither truth nor falsehood

6 Ayer’s emotivism ‘If I say to someone, “You acted wrongly in stealing that money” … I am simply evincing my moral disapproval of it. It is as if I had said, “You stole that money,” in a peculiar tone of horror’. Moral language expresses our feelings and arouses feelings in others to influence their action

7 Rejecting the verification principle
According the verification principle, the principle itself is meaningless. ‘a statement only has meaning if it is analytic or can be verified empirically’ is not analytic and cannot be verified empirically. If the principle is meaningless, it is not true. If it is not true, it cannot show that religious language is meaningless.

8 Ayer’s response The principle is intended as a definition
Whether it is the right definition of ‘meaning’ is established by arguments about its implications Objection: If we are not convinced by the implications, we will not accept it as a definition The principle provides no independent support for thinking that moral judgments are non-cognitive

9 Stevenson On beliefs and attitudes Descriptive and emotive meaning
Beliefs: mind-to-world direction of fit Attitudes: world-to-mind direction of fit Descriptive and emotive meaning Central terms (good, bad, right, wrong) are only emotive Others, e.g. ‘lie’, ‘respect’, have both meanings

10 Stevenson Emotive meaning is connected to use: the purpose is not to state facts, but to influence other people’s behaviour Obj: but much emotive language is not about morality, e.g. advertising What makes emotive language moral? If we appeal to distinct emotions expressed, e.g. disapproval, what makes moral disapproval moral (rather than aesthetic)?

11 The limits of value Non-cognitivism doesn’t identify any limits to morality, because it equates morality with approval or disapproval If what we value isn’t restricted by what is objectively valuable, it seems we could approve or disapprove of anything. But morality isn’t about just anything, but about sympathy, courage, happiness, etc. – it is about what is good for people.

12 On ethical language Ethical language doesn’t always function to influence others Ethical language isn’t always emotive Reply: The purpose of ethical language is to influence others, and this provides its core meaning But this is compatible with some non-influential uses and some non-emotive uses

13 Moral argument If moral judgments are just expressions of attitude, then the attempt to influence others is not rational Ayer: moral argument is only ever argument over facts There can be no argument over values Stevenson: moral argument is a disagreement in attitude Attitudes have implications for other attitudes

14 Moral argument But there is no rational process of deciding which attitudes to keep What reason do we have to change our minds? If the purpose of moral judgment is to influence others, any argument that is effective will be a ‘good’ argument There is no rational criterion Worse: an argument is valid if the conclusion must be true if the premises are But if moral judgments are never true (or false), no moral arguments are valid!

Download ppt "Michael Lacewing Emotivism Michael Lacewing"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google