R. M. Hare

in Sorting Out Ethics

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

Show Summary Details


Hare explains what he means by ‘Ethical Theory’, and what he means by ‘Taxonomy’. Ethical theory, which Hare contrasts to ‘moral theory’, is a purely formal discipline that is concerned with the meaning and logical properties of moral words. Hare offers a ‘Taxonomy’ of ethical theories in the sense of a classification into genera and differentia, beginning with what he sees as the basic dichotomy in ethical theory between descriptivism and non‐descriptivism. The difference between descriptivist and non‐descriptivist ethical theories is that, according to the former, the meaning of moral statements is determined entirely by their truth conditions; the latter deny that this is so. Hare divides descriptivism into ‘Naturalism’ (Ch. 4) and ‘Intuitionism’ (Ch. 5), and non‐descriptivism into ‘Emotivism’ (Ch. 6) and ‘Rationalism’ (Ch. 7).

Keywords: descriptivism; ethical Theory; moral statement; moral theory; non‐descriptivism; truth conditions

Chapter.  7930 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.