Emotivism - Pegasus Cc Ucf

Rachel Petrik
Based on writing by A.J. Ayer
A.J. Ayer
20th century English philosopher
Wrote Language, Truth, and Logic in
Established himself as leading English
rep of Logical Positivism
Logical Positivism
Also called logical empiricism
Empiricism= concepts originate in
experience and propositions are justifiable
only through experience
View that scientific knowledge is the only
kind of factual knowledge
Metaphysical statements are not factual
Teaches that moral statements:
Are meaningless
Only express the speaker’s feelings about the
Later emotivists added the idea that moral
statements are used to influence another person’s
thoughts and conduct by informing them of the
speaker’s feelings
Moral Statements
Does not literally spell out the speaker’s feelings
Expresses feelings, approval, or disapproval with
emotive force
Similar to connotation
The overtones of feeling that a word arouses
Separate from its literal meaning
Is the difference between conveying information
and appealing to feelings
Ayer’s Ideas and Principles
All meaningful statements are analytic (true by
definition) or synthetic (deriving meaning from
being empirically verifiable)
Called the Verification Principle
Ethical terms cannot be translated into
statements of empirical fact
The inability to translate into empirical fact
makes them unverifiable
Ethical statements are synthetic, not analytic
Therefore, moral facts do not exist
 Cannot adopt a subjectivist or utilitarian analysis of
ethical terms
 Utilitarian: rightness and goodness in terms of
pleasure or happiness that result
 Subjectivist: approval of the action from a certain
person or group
 Belongs to psychology or sociology, not philosophy
 These two views cannot be absolute
 To accept absolute view, recognize ethical concepts are
irreducible to empirical concepts
 Therefore ethics do not derive from observation
 Instead from intellectual intuition
 No criterion to decide between conflicting intuitions
Ethical concepts are pseudo-concepts
Ethical or moral statement does not
add factual content to a proposition
Simply evincing moral approval or
A proposition only containing ethical
symbols has no factual meaning
Evaluating Emotivism
The verification principle appears to be
synthetic, but not empirically verifiable
There are moral disagreements
Yet if there is no reason or fact behind
moral statements, why do we argue?
Seems possible to judge something to be
morally wrong without having any emotional
reaction to it
Emotivism is not a widely accepted theory
Most philosophers think moral statements
are more than just expressions of feeling