A Defence of Emotivism

6. Conclusion

Book cover: A Theory of Justice by John Rawls

This concludes my defence of Stevenson's emotivism. In this essay, I tried to show how the three aspects of his thesis relate to the broader realm of meta-ethical inquiry. I also considered a number of significant objections to it: that most people are objectivists, that it provides an inadequate account of personal indecision, moral advice and reasons, that the 'expressive' and 'directive' theses are mistaken, and that moral philosophers do not use persuasive definitions. These criticisms, I argued, result from misunderstandings regarding the nature of a meta-ethical theory and an inattentive reading of Stevenson's views. In attending to these objections, I further elaborated on the psychological nature of moral attitudes and attempted to present a clear account of the distinction between these and non-moral attitudes. Many criticisms of Stevenson's emotivism have been left unanswered and a number of points have not been elaborated fully. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, my purposes here will have been fulfilled if I have gone some way to dispelling some of the more troublesome confusions.

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