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Are you an emotivist?

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Are you an emotivist?
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televatorUser avatarPosts: 1252Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:02 amLocation: In hell, rocking out with Satan! Gender: Cake

Post Re: Are you an emotivist?

Snufkin wrote:Yes, I'm talking about what the topic of the thread is... :?
I thought you were trying to imply we shouldn't call "bigoted, anti-human, religious zealots" people ethical, I was pointing out that those people are only bad when you took your emotion into account...or do you believe they are objectively bad (or is there another alternative)?


Did you really watch the Sam Harris video? Also, why does it have to be an emotional statement to say whether something is good or bad? There are varying degrees of productive and destructive actions one can take in a social atmosphere. Sure, I can attach my emotions to these standards, but that's after the fact.

Snufkin wrote:Where did you get entirely emotional from? How does emotivism imply that humans cannot use logic or reason? I gave an example of using reason and emotion at the same time in my long response.


My mistake there. I thought that was reply to Laurens only and I tend to focus on my immediate conversation.

Hmm...upon reading it seems like you're stopping short at some point.

Given that our goal is to prevent crime, and that most criminals are repeat offenders we should lock criminals up to prevent crime. I don't think that's an emotional statement, reason is used there. There's also a context and objective goal which can be reached towards by using reason/logic.


Causing physical and emotional damage to people is wrong. That is an axiom, based on the speakers emotion - you can't arrive at this using reason because it's the smallest unit. If it can be reached using reason I'd like to see how.


If the goal was to improve or maintain the longevity of a society (that's not entirely what I propose without other conditions), it can be reasonable -- although not readily obvious -- to reduce physical and emotional harm. What do you think would be the likely broader outcomes of a society that didn't care about reducing physical and emotional harm Vs. a society that did? Even if we don't really have enough data at this very moment to know for sure, it doesn't mean that there would never be a way to know which action would be "favorable". You could extrapolate from previous civilizations or find some way to track the effects of people under such conditions in large groups to find likely outcomes.
a·the·ism: The absence of belief in god(s)

There are no additional, claims, laws, commandments, rules, doctrines, presuppositions, stand alone ideologies, dogmas, and/or faith based beliefs required by or inevitably derived from atheism.
Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:28 pm
SnufkinPosts: 55Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:02 am

Post Re: Are you an emotivist?

Did you really watch the Sam Harris video? Also, why does it have to be an emotional statement to say whether something is good or bad?

I have really watched Sam Harris' videos - not the one linked, but his more recent talks on morality. I understand his viewpoint, but I also think that he has arrived at it by using emotion.

If the goal was to improve or maintain the longevity of a society (that's not entirely what I propose without other conditions), it can be reasonable -- although not readily obvious -- to reduce physical and emotional harm.

I agree! But you set yourself up with an objective goal there, so where does that goal come from? I say that goal comes from our emotions.


Ok, here's a thought experiment.

Imagine I'm making a computer program that will tell me if something is moral/ethical using only logic and facts.

It first has to be initialised with lots of facts, such as:
the amount of species on earth,
the names of the species,
what their attributes are.
how intelligent the species are in relation to each other,

It knows the same facts as me, so if it's only using reason it should come to the same ethical conclusions as me.

Then it's time to test it out, I enter: "Is it ok for me to eat human babies?"
How is it possible for it to come to the conclusion that it's wrong to eat human babies, and ok to eat the babies of other animals?
We are just another animal objectively.

Subjectively, we consider other humans a special case because of our emotions.
Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:24 am
WelshidiotPosts: 569Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:57 pm

Post Re: Are you an emotivist?

Snufkin wrote:Subjectively, we consider other humans a special case because of our emotions.
Maybe, but how do we know that our emotional response isn't based in an instinctive urge to further the survival chances of our own species. In which case the emotion acts as a way to fully engage us in a wholly logical process.
Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:58 pm
devilsadvocateUser avatarPosts: 246Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:28 pm

Post Re: Are you an emotivist?

I only skimmed through the thread as usual, but here's my two cents.

Yes, I'm an emotivist, and I think most people are, unwittingly or not. The reason I think it is not ok to kill one healthy person to harvest his/her organs to save 5 is ultimately not because I find some rational excuse for it, but because I feel "Boo! for killing innocent people". Having that said, I think utilitarian ethics is flexible enough to accommodate for the fact. Indeed, every single normative ethical theory ultimately fails or succeeds by taking account of the human faculties. They are all conformist in this sense, none really hold that much normative power. There is no duty as deontological ethics dictate that isn't pulling on the heartstrings of emotional appeal of fairness. Yet, there certainly isn't any consequentalist theory out there that shouldn't take into account the whole human experience.
Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny.
Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:00 pm
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Are you an emotivist?

From this description alone, it really does sound like emotivists verge on sociopaths having for having no empathy for other human beings. And yes, empathy is an emotional response, and I'd argue it's borne from digging through ones' own repetoire of emotions to relate to anothers' responses. If one can admit to empathy, it's a lot harder to depend on ones' own responses upon knowing we've all got emotional experiences.

Of course, it's got to be ballanced with thinking and "reasoning," but too much arrogance on either side tends to lead to a mental disaster. We have neural transmitters, we have an adrenaline gland, and we have frontal lobes (to name a few). If we can't accept different biological impulses for what they are, we're hardly going to be able to cope with them. Overconfidence tends to breed hypocrisy. My two cents. :P

As far as I'm concerned, very little has pure "objective truth." I don't trust anything that calls itself "true." I have little experience with this label, but it seems to rewrite existing philosophies like "utilitarianism" and the like.

If this is the basic definition of emotivist, then it sounds like hard-core emotivists are inherently selfish beings.
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:06 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Are you an emotivist?

I apologise for my confusing reply :P

From the initial post I believed emotivism to be its' opposite, but having looked over the article, I'm still a bit confused. I find it really quite hard to separate either extreme from the other, because both seem inherently selfish to me.
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:19 am
devilsadvocateUser avatarPosts: 246Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:28 pm

Post Re: Are you an emotivist?

Emotivism is branch of moral skepticism. Emotivists hold that moral statements have no truth value, but rather they present expression of emotional attitude. When deontologist says "It is my moral duty not to kill innocent people" or consequentalist says "killing innocent people leads to bad consequences", emotivist holds that what is really expressed is only resentment against killing people, "boo for killing innocent people!".

So it's meta-ethical theory, at heart it's about understanding what we mean by moral statements. I don't see how it entails selfishness, because emotivism isn't in any way informing what one should do. It just isn't a normative theory.
Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny.
Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:40 am
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