According to A. J. Ayers, the moral judgements are not cognitive in nature and are based on specificity to a given situation. These judgements can not be evaluated in absolute terms as true or false but rather on the basis of validity or applicability to a given situation. A moral judgement, according to him, is reflective of emotions aroused by a particular situation and can hence be classified as valid or invalid rather than as true or false. These judgements are not objective propositions but they express emotions and are not verifiable.
An argument about the truth or falsity of a moral judgement is actually the interpretation based on empirical observations to specific cases thereby constituting a non-objective reality. The validity or the truth and falsity of ethical judgements can not be found because they are dependent on sense-experiences and they do not categorically make statements but rather give one’s biased opinion towards the situation. The ethical and moral judgements are thus purely emotive.
Persuasive arguments for moral objectivism do not constitute a proposition since they are based on normative emotional reactions and earlier moral conditioning. His key argument against moral objectivism is thus this emotive response because even if an adversary agrees to facts in a given situation, he might still differ on his moral judgement with the two parties accusing each other of having a distorted moral sense whereas in reality each may be justified in having their judgements from their emotive experiences.
Hence, the claims of moral objectivists on the correctness of their moral evaluations can not be verified in absolute terms as a propositional claim. Any such claim carries with it a certain emotive content or a sense-experience and so these do not come under the purview of being right or wrong as the moral objectivists proclaim. A more sound treatment of these value judgements, Ayer believes is an approach that takes into view an individual’s or a group’s empirical viewpoints.
Jules Ayer, Alfred. (1952). Language, truth, and logic. Dover Publications.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 January 2017
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