Meta ethics. What does the language in ethical statements mean?
Cognitivism is a view that says moral knowledge is possible. Therefore, ethical statements can be meaningful because they can be proved true or false as they have a factual basis.
Non-cognitivism says that there can be no ethical knowledge because ethical language and statements give no factual information and therefore must not be meaningful as they are not subject to truth or falsity. Suggested by this approach that they are just expressions of emotion and prescriptive recommendations.
Emotivism. Ayer said that ethical statements and language are expressed emotion. What we are saying is not significant. It is just our approval/disapproval. The use of these words could be meaningless as they only express emotions that have no factual significance or meaning. To solve this problem, Ayer created the boo-hurrah theory. Boo to bad things, hurrah to good things.
Stevenson looked at the emotive meaning of words and how they affect others by their use. Ethical statements are to influence and persuade others, an expression of command, not just emotion.
Prescriptivism says that the ethical statements are prescriptive. They are universal ad logically consistent. They don't just express a personal opinion or emotion, but they suggest that other people in similar situations should do the same, prescribing the principle universally. Hare says that ethical language is intrinsically prescriptive and implies what ought to be…