Analysis and Metaphysics 6:120-135 (2007)

In this paper, partly historical and partly theoretical, after having shortly outlined the development of the meta-ethics in the 1900?s starting from the Tractatus of Wittgenstein, I argue it is possible to sustain that emotivism and intuitionism are unsatisfactory ethical conceptions, while on the contrary, reason (intended in a logical-deductive sense) plays an effective role both in ethical discussions and in choices. There are some characteristics of the ethical language (prescriptivity, universalizability and predominance) that cannot be eluded (pain the non significativity of the same language) by those who want to morally reason, i.e. by those who intend to regulate their own behaviour on the basis of knowledged and coherent principles. These characteristics can be found whether or not all possible ontological-metaphysics foundations of morals are taken into account. Furthermore the deontic logic systems allow the formalization of ethical theories and - at least in principle - a rigorous critical discussion of the same, but obviously nothing can be affirmed on the value of truth of the axioms of a system. In the deontic logic systems Hume?s law is assumed as an implicit result of inferential (conventional) rules and the acceptance of Hume?s law as a logical-linguistic thesis does not involve the cancellation of values (nihilism) or ethical relativism or indifferentism.
Keywords meta-ethics  Wittgenstein  deontic logic  language
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