Philosophy Word of the Day – Emotivism

The meta-ethical theory according to which the meaning of moral language is exhausted by its expression, evocation, or endorsement of powerful human feelings. Thus, for example, saying “Stealing is wrong,” is just an especially strong way of reporting that I disapprove of stealing, evoking a similar disapproval from others, and thereby attempting to influence future conduct—both mine and theirs. Although its origins lie in the non-cognitivist morality of Hume, emotivism reached its height early in the twentieth century, with the work of the logical positivists and [Charles L.] Stevenson.

Recommended Reading: Charles L. Stevenson, Ethics and Language (Yale, 1944); J. O. Urmson, The Emotive Theory of Ethics (London, 1968) {at}; and Stephen Satris, Ethical Emotivism (Martinus Nijhoff, 1987) {at}.

(Via A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names)

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