Many philosophers such as David Hume in the 18th century and Alfred Jules Ayer in the 20th century have argued that ethical judgments are, in one sense or another, dependent on emotion and do not express knowledge of any objective truths. Hume was a famous essayist, economist, historian and philosopher from Scotland whose interests delve much on empiricism and skepticism. He is widely considered as one of the three pillars of empiricism in modern philosophy.
On the other hand, A.J. Ayer was the logical positivist who put forward the tradition in English. He was said to have been influence a lot by Hume's empiricism which is usual among logical positivists. Hume being an empiricist and A.J. Ayer being a logical positivist already says something of their ideas about ethics. Both philosophers argued about ethics as emotivism in a similar context but in their own unique way.
[...] Ayer's thorough discussion of ethics and emotivism using logical positivism instead of empiricism and causality. In a chapter called "Critique of Ethics and Theology" in his book Language, Truth and Logic, A.J. Ayer talks about different systems of ethics. He said that such systems we know today mainly contain propositions that define terms in ethics or moral judgments in terms of being possible or legitimate in language. For positivists like A.J. Ayer, concepts in ethics and moral judgments will always be subjective, devoid of objectivity and therefore, cannot be translatable into matters of fact or truth. [...]
[...] On ethics as emotivism according to David Hume and A.J. Ayer Many philosophers such as David Hume in the 18th century and Alfred Jules Ayer in the 20th century have argued that ethical judgments are, in one sense or another, dependent on emotion and do not express knowledge of any objective truths. Hume was a famous essayist, economist, historian and philosopher from Scotland whose interests delve much on empiricism and skepticism. He is widely considered as one of the three pillars of empiricism in modern philosophy. [...]
[...] Hume, as an empiricist, asserts that reason is the slave of the passions and it must be the guiding principle to motivate human will. In addition, for Hume, moral distinctions are derived from sentiments and not on reason. Clearly, he is not an advocate of ethical rationalism which says that morality is based on reason e.g. what is good is reasonable and what is evil is unreasonable. For him, we can distinguish good from evil through the use of reason. This can be further explained using his view on virtue, vice and causal reasoning. [...]
[...] If the proposition fails to satisfy this principle, and is not a tautology, then it is neither true nor false but meaningless. Ayer's verifiability principle can be illustrated by seeing what he would say about ethics such as the notion of good. Given the statements, girl wears a polka dot skirt” and girl is we can say that the first statement is true if through sense experience you say that the girl is in reality wearing a polka dot skirt and therefore, is meaningful, but if not, you can readily say that the statement is false since it does not satisfy the empirical demands of the verification principle. [...]
[...] Conclusion After discussing Hume's and A.J. Ayer's views on ethics in terms of emotion, it is therefore concluded that both of their ideas are philosophically defensible. Hume is an empiricist and they have good claims that are easy to debate on because they rely on experience. If you don't perceive it, then you might as well not take it into consideration. This is the major advantage for the philosophy of Hume. Meanwhile, the disadvantages comes when the perception fails to give accurate information, such as seeing yellow instead of the real colors because someone has hepatitis, but these are rare. [...]
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