Previous | | Next | | E-Mail | | Contents | | V&FT

The Christmas Conspiracy!




"'. . . that He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.'
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of God from Jerusalem
Micah 4:2


All of the preceding schools of thought have in some way viewed the function of ethical discourse as informative; however, in the face of the verifiability criterion (which, in passing, nobody has been able to formulate adequately and consistently) commonly recognized moral judgments are neither empirically verifiable nor analytic truths. Hence a major new approach to the metaethical question was developed. It fundamentally held that, although valuational utterances have a grammatical similarity to factual assertions, the function of moral discourse is noncognitive or noninformative. Emotive function was attributed to ethical language by men like A. J. Ayer and C. L. Stevenson; according to them moral statements were really only expressive of feeling and personal approval (e.g., "Hurray for chastity!"). Moral utterances are not credited as being genuine judgments; so emotivism is con-[297] cerned to deal only with the perlocutionary effects of ethical language. This approach does not take moral discourse seriously enough, however, for it is quite apparent that a person also uses moral utterance to recommend to others that they also follow this action (indeed, that they are obligated to do so). The emotivist has nothing to contribute as far as what moral locutions are or say or mean; it is difficult to analyze spontaneous, gut-level, bursting-forth expressions of feeling. Emotivism deprives ethics of any genuine directive value and places a great strain upon moral principles:
  • how are they derived?
  • what legitimizes them?
  • why are they proper or improper?

The moralist’s given attitude cannot be open to discussion since it is noncognitive. So it seems that one is thrown back again upon an ethics of inclination, which (as we have previously observed) is really a nonethic. Emotivism can only have significance in an ethical discussion as a version of private subjectivism, and the inadequacies of that philosophy have already been demonstrated.


Next: Prescriptivism

Christmas Conspiracy


Vine & Fig Tree

Paradigm Shift


Subscribe to Vine & Fig Tree
Enter your e-mail address:
vft archive
An e-group hosted by

Vine & Fig Tree
12314 Palm Dr. #107
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
[e-mail to V&FT]
[V&FT Home Page]