Wednesday September 30, 2009
Emotivism/Expressivism-rejects that first half of non-naturalism, that moral judgments can be
true or false. Moral judgments aren’t the kind of things that can be true or false, we are not
saying the kind of thing that could be true.
-didn’t deny the second half of non-naturalism, that moral judgments were a separate kind of
judgment, emotivists endorsed that. Moore’s open question argument was a terrific argument.
Believed it showed that moral judgments don’t report facts at all. Scientific statements can be
true or false.
2 variants that emotivism can take:
1)x is wrong=”x-ing by anyone, whatever his attitude to x-ing=boo!”
what moral judgments do is express attitudes “x is wrong”-express a negative attitude ex.
Toronto Maple Leafs..BOO! (cant be true or false), don’t express any attitude toward whether or
not someone else likes the Leafs, doesn’t say that everyone ought to dislike the Leafs.
-saying lying is wrong, is making it universal, lying by anybody is wrong. No matter what your
attitude is, lying would be wrong.
It is important that moral judgments express attitudes, rather than just report that the speaker
has the attitude. There could be no disagreements or conflicts about ethics since my
psychological report wouldn’t contradict yours. Moral judgements express emotions, where
expressions do allow conflict ex. Boo vs. hurrah.
2) “x is wrong”= “everyone, whatever your attitude to x-ing:don’t x!” (command)
-moral judgments give commands. Commands are not capable of being true or false but can
conflict. Ex. “do x” and “don’t do x” contradict each other.
-has us issuing universal commands
-There are differences between 1 and 2 but they should be ignored, they share the common
claim that moral judgments cannot be true or false because they don’t assert facts.
Moral judgments cannot be true or false because they cannot express fact.
Reasons people had for believing emotivism/expressivism:
1)Argument from Relativity-non-naturalists claim that there is this realm of moral facts, but if
that is the case shouldn’t we agree about ethics, the way people agree about math. We don’t
agree, there are fundamental disagreements about right and wrong. The fact of disagreement is
easier to explain if we say that all moral judgments do is express attitudes. Our attitudes are
determined by personal experiences and culture, which are different from one another.
2)Argument from Queerness-General sense that this separate realm of moral facts was weird.
People were skeptical that a separate category of non-natural facts or properties that we access by a separate kind of knowledge is not consistent. Many believed our knowledge of the world
came from sense experience; all of the real knowledge was given to us by science. The positing
of these non-natural properties is inconsistent with the scientific picture of the world. When we
make moral judgments we are expressing attitudes.
Common worry is that it makes right/wrong depend on your attitude. If you were raised