ABSTRACT

This chapter begins by considering the views of those who do not regard moral evaluations as true judgments at all because they believe that moral judgments do not make assertions, and that therefore they are not genuine statements. Two different schools of moral philosophy are associated with this view: emotivists and prescriptivists. It is the emotivist view that moral judgments are essentially non-rational that worries prescriptivists. Prescriptivism was first advocated by the Oxford philosopher Professor Richard Hare. Hare wants to distinguish the emotivist view that moral attitudes are caused to change from the prescriptivist view that they change for reasons. Hare says that moral value words such as ‘right’ and ‘ought’ have what he calls a ‘supervenient character’ – that is they have an extra ‘something’ that distinguishes them from non-value words such as ‘red’ or ‘square’.