- Non-cognitivist= moral judgements do not express beliefs (not truth evaluable)
- They express cognitive states-emotions, attitudes.
- They are expressions of emotional responses, no attempts to describe how the world is.
- "X is good"= expressing approval of X. Expressions of approval/dissaproval= not truth evaluable.
- Simplified version= boo/hooray ethics.
- Any version of naturalism fails becaue of the open question argument- it is not self-contradictory to ask of any natural property 'is it good?'.
- Any version of non-naturalism will fail because talk of non-natural properties lacks literal significance-meaningless.
Talk of non-natural propeties is meaningless
Only 2 ways a statement can be meaningful:
1)empirically verifiable- (VERIFICATION PRINCIPLE)-"200 cars in the carpark"-verifiable by observation. Any statement where we do not know the conditions under which it would be true/false is meaningless.
2)Analytic-true by definition (TAUTOLIGIES)-"All bachelors are unmarried men"- true in virtue of the definitions of the claims it contains.
- Those that claim moral judgements express beliefs about non-natural moral properties should be rejected- the claims they make are not analytic/ empirically verifiable= meaningless.
- Moral statements not analytic.
- Non-natural properties= not empirically verifiable- cannot be observed (non-natural).
- If ethical concepts were non-natural, they could only be acessed through mysterious intellectual intuition. What is intutively certain to one may be doubtful to another. No other criterion- no way of verifiying whose intuition is true.
- Such a criterion must be empirically verifiable or it would be subjective and fail original purpose. Ethical concepts are not non-natural- have a verification criteria.
- Open question argument fails- naturalism back on the cards.
- Verification principle fails- not empirically verifiable. Non-naturalism is back on the cards.
- Cognitivism can be attacked using the fact-value distinction and the is-ought gap.
- Non cognitivism and emotivism are still contenders- can survive these failures.
Judging the abhorrent practices of others
- Have a secondary function to expressing feelings- influences others emotions& stimulate action. "It is wrong to torture cats"- expressing dissaproval + get others to adopt same attitude.
PROBLEM- Nature of disagreement
- Issue concerning the nature of moral disagreement and the purpose of moral argument.
- i say "X=good", you say "x=bad" & all we are doing is expressing pro/con attitude towards X, very little can be said/done. Cannot argue about matters of value/ no contradiction when we disagree. How do we settle moral disputes?
RESPONSE- Appeal to facts
- Ayer- accepts we cannot argue about matters of value. On one level we can argue by appealing to empirical facts surrounding the issue.
- You think abortion is ok- don't have all the facts. I disagree- appeal to facts you were unaware of- help persuade you it isnt.
- Often in moral disagreements it is about the facts not the values.
PROBLEM- discuss it but still diagree, nothing more can be done. Cannot prove feelings right.
Does it capture the real nature of moral argument?
- We often do seem to contradict each other in moral disagreements.
- We provide reasons and arguments to defend our judgement and convince others of the validity
- We rationally try and change the attitudes/beliefs of others, not just to get clear on the facts/emotionally manipulate people through skilled oratory.
- Fails to capture the nature of moral disagreement.
- It is important to use our values are consistent&have strong reasons for holding them& understand the consequences&implications of holding them.
- These are rational considerations that do not apply to feelings/attitudes.
- Ayers account- can adopt one attitude today and a different one tommorow with not hypocracy
- Giving moral judgements is just psychological manipulation. If this is true- any fact that influences attitudes can count as a reaosn for the attitude produced- cannot be the case, does away with reasonable/ legitimate reasons.
- In dispensing all cognitive elements of moral judgements and the possibility of moral disagreement/ juging others- the motivist rules out any possibility of meaningful talk of moral progress/mistakes.
- If moral judgements are not truth evaluable- they cannot be mistaken. left with no criteria to understand moral progress.
Extent we can value what we like
1) can we seperate the evaluative and descriptive components of statements?
2) does seperating them lead to seperate conclusions?
- The assumption there is a radical distinction between fact and evaluative staments can be questioned- lots of examples of statements that contain factual and evaluative elements.
- "that was really generous"- expressing positive attitude towards action and describing it- had certain features.
- Difficult to seperate factual and evaluative because our values permeate how we see the world- determining how we describe it.
- The idea we have a value-free perspective and description of the world does not fit how we actually see/describe it.
- If it was possible to seperate them, we could approve of anything we liked- genocide/paedo's
Moral discourse has cogntive aspects that emotivism fails to capture.