Philosophy of Language in Ethics

R. M. Hare

in Sorting Out Ethics

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250326
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597602 | DOI:
Philosophy of Language in Ethics

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Philosophy of language, according to Hare, contributes significantly to ethics, because it provides a logical structure for moral thinking. Referring to J. L. Austin's theory of speech acts, Hare distinguishes two kinds or genera of speech acts, the descriptive and the prescriptive; and he also discusses Austin's distinction between illocutionary and perlocutionary acts. Moral judgements, e.g. those judgements expressed by ‘ought’, are prescriptive speech acts, but they also have a descriptive meaning. This is because moral judgements share with normative judgements the logical feature Hare calls universalizability. Alongside prescriptivity and universalizability, a third element of Hare's account of moral judgement is the identification of one's will with that of another moral agent's will in hypothetical situations.

Keywords: Austin; ethics; illocutionary acts; moral judgement; ought; perlocutionary acts; philosophy of language; speech act theory; speech acts; the will; universalizability

Chapter.  11464 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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