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    I have been asked to give a lesson on prescriptivism re: implications for moral truth/moral naturalism

    Whilst I have an approximate framework (and am rereading Hare) for what I'd like to cover/achieve, does anyone have any suggestions for:

    a) useful thought experiments to demonstrate how it differs from emotivism in a neat, short format

    b) any examples that can be worked through, that don't appear in Hare, and that might be useful

    c) A simplified scheme for explaining how to break down imperatives into phrastic and neustic

    d) anything else

    I have something down for all this, but it is too dense, waffly or complex for what I am trying to achieve. Any suggestions are welcome.

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    We recently learnt this in our A2 Ethics class. Personally I love debates so we all had a different theory in a class that we researched and then had to argue why it was the best one. I am an Emotivist.

    a) Both emotivism and presciptivism are non cognitive theories. Emotivism- main thinker A.J Ayer: words like good are meanignless it is all emotion. Prescriptivism tries to influence others/ prescribe attitudes to other people so there is a universal code. My main criticism is
    'why should one person's morals be superior to another's?'
    b) I only studied Hare
    c) ....
    d) what theory are do you side with?
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    (Original post by Polkadot2)
    We recently learnt this in our A2 Ethics class. Personally I love debates so we all had a different theory in a class that we researched and then had to argue why it was the best one. I am an Emotivist.

    a) Both emotivism and presciptivism are non cognitive theories. Emotivism- main thinker A.J Ayer: words like good are meanignless it is all emotion. Prescriptivism tries to influence others/ prescribe attitudes to other people so there is a universal code. My main criticism is
    'why should one person's morals be superior to another's?'
    b) I only studied Hare
    c) ....
    d) what theory are do you side with?
    Ah the joys of timing! I delivered said class earlier today

    I am studying it as well but my tutor knows I want to teach in the future, that I have read Hare and know the theory well, and so was offering me something to gain experience.

    My problem has been in atomising the theory down to workable examples, without losing too much depth, in a fashion that is communicable.

    I am a prescriptivist and accept the difficulties of relativism. I don't think there is any real basis for cross-cultural judgement, perhaps other than on the basis of a reduction of harm on utilitarian grounds... but even so.

    The hardest part was breaking down the grammarian nature of the argument. I spent a while explaining the imperative and indicative moods and how Hare reasons beyond Ayer on the basis of how language is structured, and one example Hare uses to support Moore's argument against moral naturalism (the ' good strawberry' example.)

    I was going to get into phrastic-neustic structuring but I didn't have time in the end, though I think that isn't really necessary just yet, I just like using it because it demonstrates the point being made with greater clarity to my mind.

    In any event, thank you for offering your support & suggestions. I very much appreciate it

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    Ah what a shame! oh well , it is good to discuss anyway! Can you tell me about the phrastic/neustic imperatives? I don't think I have come across these before

    Thankyou !

    P.s why are you a prescriptivist? how does it make sense to you that somebody has the superiority to prescribe their morals on to other people?

    I just want you to know that I enjoy learning others opinions and am not criticising you on a personal level aha
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    (Original post by Polkadot2)
    Ah what a shame! oh well , it is good to discuss anyway! Can you tell me about the phrastic/neustic imperatives? I don't think I have come across these before

    Thankyou !

    P.s why are you a prescriptivist? how does it make sense to you that somebody has the superiority to prescribe their morals on to other people?

    I just want you to know that I enjoy learning others opinions and am not criticising you on a personal level aha
    Not at all, always happy to explain and defend my position.

    The phrastic-neustic is a method, rather than a sort of statement, and is what Hare uses to demonstrate that moral statements are (in his eyes) imperative statements.

    He divides a statement into two parts, the phrastic is always a statement about an object being discussed (object in the sense of the grammatical 'object') and the neustic communicating the descriptive or prescriptive nature of the statement in question.

    So Hare, and I will below, lays out statements "phrastic, neustic," so if we take as an example;

    "Love is good,"

    this becomes;

    "Love, (more) please," [phrastic, neustic]

    Whereas

    "Love is all around"

    becomes

    "Love, everywhere."

    All imperative statements, including moral ones, have a similar character, according to Hare, when broken down thusly.

    The details are rather fiddly but in so doing he demonstrates the difference between descriptive and prescriptive modes of communication, and he argues that you can break down any simple statement into such parts.

    There is more to it, mind, but I am not a teacher yet and don't want to step beyond what I know without referencing properly. I recommend reading Hare if you have the chance, if you can get past the dry tone, it is a really good read.

    As for why I am a prescriptivist, I shall first say why I am not anything else:
    (a) I don't think there is a satisfactory resolution to Moore's OQ argument, which rules out naturalism
    (b) I do not believe morals to be given by a divine being
    (c) emotivism leaves us with a very odd position of being able to say "X is good" and "X is bad" without logical contradiction (both are just statements of emotional sentiment with no meaning/content.)

    Hare I feel offers a realistic view of how we actually use moral language, I make no normative judgments about the consequences thereof save that I am comfortable also being a classic liberal; I feel our language-game, if you like Wittgenstein's terminology, of morals has given rise to a strong idea, liberalism, to produce a useful method with which to govern our social discourse, without needing to point to some natural source for such a moral position.

    Now this is utilitarian (a useful method,) and I make no apologies for seeing a moral charge from the language-game of morals which I participate in.

    Still, that linguistic basis is ultimately the only basis for such a judgment and judging other cultures/language-game of morals is nigh-on impossible.

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    (Original post by ockhamsshotgun)
    Not at all, always happy to explain and defend my position.

    The phrastic-neustic is a method, rather than a sort of statement, and is what Hare uses to demonstrate that moral statements are (in his eyes) imperative statements.

    He divides a statement into two parts, the phrastic is always a statement about an object being discussed (object in the sense of the grammatical 'object') and the neustic communicating the descriptive or prescriptive nature of the statement in question.

    So Hare, and I will below, lays out statements "phrastic, neustic," so if we take as an example;

    "Love is good,"

    this becomes;

    "Love, (more) please," [phrastic, neustic]

    Whereas

    "Love is all around"

    becomes

    "Love, everywhere."

    All imperative statements, including moral ones, have a similar character, according to Hare, when broken down thusly.

    The details are rather fiddly but in so doing he demonstrates the difference between descriptive and prescriptive modes of communication, and he argues that you can break down any simple statement into such parts.

    There is more to it, mind, but I am not a teacher yet and don't want to step beyond what I know without referencing properly. I recommend reading Hare if you have the chance, if you can get past the dry tone, it is a really good read.

    As for why I am a prescriptivist, I shall first say why I am not anything else:
    (a) I don't think there is a satisfactory resolution to Moore's OQ argument, which rules out naturalism
    (b) I do not believe morals to be given by a divine being
    (c) emotivism leaves us with a very odd position of being able to say "X is good" and "X is bad" without logical contradiction (both are just statements of emotional sentiment with no meaning/content.)

    Hare I feel offers a realistic view of how we actually use moral language, I make no normative judgments about the consequences thereof save that I am comfortable also being a classic liberal; I feel our language-game, if you like Wittgenstein's terminology, of morals has given rise to a strong idea, liberalism, to produce a useful method with which to govern our social discourse, without needing to point to some natural source for such a moral position.

    Now this is utilitarian (a useful method,) and I make no apologies for seeing a moral charge from the language-game of morals which I participate in.

    Still, that linguistic basis is ultimately the only basis for such a judgment and judging other cultures/language-game of morals is nigh-on impossible.

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    I think you have made a great start in becoming a teacher! Thankyou for this I will ask my teacher about it too as I got a little confused Are you an A2 student? If so which course and Specification are you? I am studying Religious Studies OCR .

    What are your views on intuition then? Moore's point is that /ethical naturalism is wrong hence the naturalistic fallacy.
    As for emotivism - you're right the statements are meaningless. But that is Ayer's point all morals are meaningless statements as they are not matters of fact just emotions.

    I think you have probably made a good argument on your behalf even though I felt I needed a google translate for my own language.
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    (Original post by Polkadot2)
    I think you have made a great start in becoming a teacher! Thankyou for this I will ask my teacher about it too as I got a little confused Are you an A2 student? If so which course and Specification are you? I am studying Religious Studies OCR .

    What are your views on intuition then? Moore's point is that /ethical naturalism is wrong hence the naturalistic fallacy.
    As for emotivism - you're right the statements are meaningless. But that is Ayer's point all morals are meaningless statements as they are not matters of fact just emotions.

    I think you have probably made a good argument on your behalf even though I felt I needed a google translate for my own language.
    Always happy to assist!

    I am a mature student, taking my A2 level Philosophy AQA, which I have a place to study next year at Uni

    I put together a print out on prescriptivism which I'd be more than happy to share if you'd like to see it.

    Not sure what you mean about intuition, do you mean the sense we know what is right without necessarily reasoning it out? I personally would put that down to socialisation and exposure to moral language.

    My problem with Ayer's assertion is a logical one, I don't accept that 'X is good' and 'X is bad' can be noncontradictory statements; but that is just me.

    Moore's argument is sometimes called the 'open question' (OQ) argument. Wikipedia has a great article on it but for the sake of my own learning I shall try to replicate its logical form.

    Premise 1: Iff "X is good" then the question "Is 'X is good' a true statment?" should be a closed question (only one possible answer.)

    Premise 2: The question "Is 'X is good' a true statement?" is an open question

    Conclusion: We cannot logically define 'X is good' in a naturalistic way. (This is a modus tollens argument, P --> Q, Q' therefore P')

    The joys of the philosophy syllabus! I don't know how much you will see of this on the RS spec, obviously in philosophy we have to study the logical form of the arguments.

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    (Original post by ockhamsshotgun)
    Always happy to assist!

    I am a mature student, taking my A2 level Philosophy AQA, which I have a place to study next year at Uni

    I put together a print out on prescriptivism which I'd be more than happy to share if you'd like to see it.

    Not sure what you mean about intuition, do you mean the sense we know what is right without necessarily reasoning it out? I personally would put that down to socialisation and exposure to moral language.

    My problem with Ayer's assertion is a logical one, I don't accept that 'X is good' and 'X is bad' can be noncontradictory statements; but that is just me.

    Moore's argument is sometimes called the 'open question' (OQ) argument. Wikipedia has a great article on it but for the sake of my own learning I shall try to replicate its logical form.

    Premise 1: Iff "X is good" then the question "Is 'X is good' a true statment?" should be a closed question (only one possible answer.)

    Premise 2: The question "Is 'X is good' a true statement?" is an open question

    Conclusion: We cannot logically define 'X is good' in a naturalistic way. (This is a modus tollens argument, P --> Q, Q' therefore P')

    The joys of the philosophy syllabus! I don't know how much you will see of this on the RS spec, obviously in philosophy we have to study the logical form of the arguments.

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    Yes I would be interested in your handout . I understand Moore's open question argument. He also had a naturalistc fallacy whereby he criticises Ethical Naturalism. From this criticism Moore then develops his theory on intuitionalism. Moore says simple concepts can't be defined we just intrinsically know what is good or bad.

    It is weird because although my course is RS - we actually focus on Philosophy and Ethics which I prefer

    Secondly do you know anything about falsification,verification and functional language?

    How would you answer : Compare and contrast alsification,verification and functional language. I am struggling A LOT
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    Functional language theory I am not familiar with.

    We haven't started on our syllabus on this topic yet, but I am familoar with the basics of verificationism/falsificationism.

    Verificationism is, as I recall, Ayer's epistemological system to establish truth; that facts must be verified by experienrial data to prove a statement to be true

    Falsificationism is Popper and his assertion that truth is always contigent, and what is more important is to say what we know to be false and draw conclusions from this.

    I would contrast their demarcations of empirical evidence (Ayer theoretically allows any evidence that proves a statement to be true or false in any given instance, Popper submits that only falsifiable repeatable evidence can be accepted,) contrast their approaches to truth (Popper appears to deny 'truth' in any fixed form outside the tautological,) perhaps also show that Ayer is working principally modus ponens and Popper modus tollens...

    I am not sure if you need to work a given example but that is where I would start. The logical structure of each argument in fact might make the best opening paragraph.

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