Ethics and reason: Richard M. Hare and Hume's law

Per la Filosofia (31):50-56 (1994)
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Abstract

A synthetic glance about the basic outlines of Hare's Meta-ethics is offered in this paper to support the idea that Hume's law is still a productive resource for ethical studies. Hare accepted the emotivist premise that moral judgments do not, in the same way as ordinary statements do, state matters of fact that are either true or false, but denied that therefore they must be forms of exclamation. The essential character of moral discourse consisted, not, as the emotivists had held, in its links with subjective attitudes, but with action; moral judgments were prescriptive, in that they expressed commitments to action on the part of the person uttering them, and at the same time their rationality was assured by their universalisability, i.e. their property of applying not merely to the person uttering them, but to all similar persons in similar circumstances.

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