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"'. . . 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."
|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- 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
The moralists 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.
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