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Moral Language

When I say 'People should not kill', I mean that it would be better for all of us if a rule of 'do not kill' were commonly accepted. It does not mean that I believe in a moral requirement to not kill. It does not mean I always think that killing is the wrong choice. It does not mean that I myself feel bound by that rule.

(This is apparently Non-cognitivism, from wikipedia:

Emotivism, associated with A. J. Ayer, the Vienna Circle and C. L. Stevenson, suggests that ethical sentences are primarily emotional expressions of one's own attitudes and are intended to influence the actions of the listener. Under this view, "Killing is wrong" is translated as "Killing, boo!" or "I disapprove of killing."

A close cousin of emotivism, developed by R. M. Hare, is called universal prescriptivism. Prescriptivists interpret ethical statements as being universal imperatives, prescribing behavior for all to follow. According to prescriptivism, phrases like "Thou shalt not murder!" or "Do not steal!" are the clearest expressions of morality, while reformulations like "Killing is wrong" tend to obscure the meaning of moral sentences.

Other forms of non-cognitivism include Simon Blackburn's quasi-realism and Allan Gibbard's norm-expressivism.

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Last modified 2019-08-16 Fri 16:27. Contact