Ayer's Ethical Theory: Emotivism or Subjectivism?*: David Wiggins

David Wiggins
Oxford University
In 1936, in a chapter of Language, Truth and Logic clearly influenced by Hume and influenced also by Ogden's and Richards's The Meaning of Meaning, Ayer claimed that judgments of value, in so far as they are not scientific statements, are not in the literal sense significant but are simply expressions of emotion which can be neither true nor false. To say ‘You acted wrongly in stealing that money’ is not to state any more than one would have stated by merely saying ‘you stole that money’. To add that the action was wrong is not to make a further statement about it, but simply to evince one's moral disapproval. ‘It is as if I had said “you stole that money” in a peculiar tone of horror, or written it with the addition of some special exclamation mark. The tone or the exclamation mark adds nothing to the literal meaning of the sentence. It merely serves to show that the expression of it is attended by certain feelings of the speaker’.
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246100007761
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