Emotive Theory Course Work Sample

Published: 2021-06-22 00:47:16
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Category: Life, Ethics

Type of paper: Essay

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Human life is governed by morals, ethics and principles, the basis of which we are not aware of still. We do know however that human life requires a set of ethics and codes in order to function in harmony with one another and thereby developed them over time. G.E. Moore (1912) explores the basis of the emotive theory, an analysis on whether our set of ethics and moral judgements are based only on feelings as is believed. In order to do so Moore (1912) explores the various grounds that our ethics can be based on.

If we look at the first scenario where the human concept of right and wrong is based on personal feelings, one that a person has towards a particular action or word. We see that these feelings in turn manifest into what is favourable and not favourable to that individual and thereby into right and wrong. When seen in this manner, we can see that what is right for one may not and will not necessarily be so for another depending on their own personal feelings towards the same matter. Therefore an issue can be both right and wrong if judgement is based only on individual feelings and becomes more of a difference of opinion between two people.

Human beings are also, governed by society and share a communal bond. When few people from a similar community equivocally express and share the same feeling towards an action or spoken word, then it is attributed characteristics of right or wrong. If we look at right and wrong as thus formed by a communal favourable or unfavourable feeling towards an action or spoken word, we can also see that these communal feelings may not be shared by people who belong to communities that hold different religious and cultural beliefs from one another. Therefore we can see that feelings and opinion cannot be taken as the basis of moral judgements.

Also ethics based only on emotivism does not hold ground when we look at the progression of morals and ethics embedded in us. We have all seen that communal feelings towards certain judgements have changed with the progression of time, but certain morals have not. Moral judgements have through time remained consistent between societies and individuals. Therefore Moore (1912) also eliminates the sociological influences on ethics.


As we said earlier, the origin of moral judgement and human ethics is still unknown. Moore (1912) does not deny the possibility of them having originated from personal feelings. But he argues and calls it a “fallacy” (para. ), to assume that human beings developed their moral judgement based only on feelings.


G. E. Moore (1912). "The Objectivity of Moral Judgments" in Ethics. Introduction to Ethical Studies: An Open Source Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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