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Prescriptivism details

Non-cognitive ethic developed by R.M.Hare.
Hare was a Japanese prisoner.
Wanted to show that moral thinking could be rational as opposed to arbitrary emotions or cultural customs.
Emphasis on reason and freedom.



Prescriptions were ‘free’, they were willed or decided upon, as opposed to involuntary emotions.
They were rational, informed, imaginative and consistent.
Moral judgements do not describe how the world is but prescribe how it should be.


Prescriptivism Strengths: More than a gut reaction

Emotivists go through moral judgements based on the expression of emotions
E.g.Gut reaction that abortions wrong & then seek to justify.
Post rejecting an objective morality, there’s immense value in reflecting upon the choice of moral actions as individuals, as well as holding ppl responsible for the actions they prescribe.


Prescriptivism Strengths: Moral debates as universal.

Moral debates are to be viewed with complete universalisability.
Debates need not be emotional manipulation and persuasion, offering advice to a dilemma via asking if their position is informed, imaginative, consistent and universalisable.


Prescriptivism Strengths: It’s practical

It’s practical, motivates action by putting a greater role on reason then emotion.
If all ppl were consistent in their commands, and the commands they take, were imaginative and informed, wed go further than most ethics.


Prescriptivism Weaknesses: Racism as false

Prescriptivists cannot prove racism to be false, but rather, irrational.
As it cannot be reasonably but universally prescribed.
Counter: Don’t need to prove something false to reason right.


Prescriptivism Weaknesses: Contradictories

Who’s prescribed wrong?
The gamekeeper who prescribes rabbit traps as good?
Or the walker who prescribed them as bad.