Monday, 3 January 2011


  • R.M. Hare suggests that ethical statements are more than just expressions of opinion. They suggest a prescription. For example, if I saw ‘abortion is wrong’ what I am actually doing is prescribing you not to commit abortion.
  • Hare felt that Ayer and Stevenson’s approach was too subjective and that ethical statements prescribe behaviors and attitudes. 
  • The statements are universal and because of these universal qualities , it is in our best interest to prescribe to them
  • Because moral statements are prescriptive and they are absolute ideas to follow.
  • Another difference between emotivism and prescriptivism is that Hare suggests that reason has a role to play in moral statements.

  • He made a case for universal and prescriptive moral statements while accounting for the work carried out by Ayer.
  • It would be beneficial to have moral system to have common rules and that a person’s moral system may have influence over others.
  • It supports our legal system.

  • The relativist philosopher J.L.Mackie disagreed and said morals are nor absolute and universal. He believed that in reality Hare’s theory did not work. As morals are something that vary from person to person a good example is too look at cultural differences.
  • The extent of a universal maxim - can a maxim cover the similar situation but with different individuals?
  • Raises questions about who has authority to prescribe.
  • Foot points out that we can point out how good someone is without the intention to become a better person them-self.

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