Chapter

Rationalism

R. M. Hare

in Sorting Out Ethics

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250326
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597602 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198250320.003.0007
 Rationalism

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Hare presents his own position, a theory that incorporates all the truths of the other theories that have been discussed, together with ‘prescriptive logic’, which is what makes rationality in moral thinking possible. Hare calls this position ‘universal prescriptivism’, and he identifies it as an adaptation of Kant's Categorical Imperative. Universal Prescriptivism gives a completely formal account of the meanings of moral words such as ‘ought’; i.e. it defines them purely on the basis of their logical properties. Of the theories considered, this is the only one that satisfies all six of the requirements for an adequate ethical theory, and it also guarantees universalizability. Prescriptivity and, in particular, universal prescriptivity, enables us to examine moral intuitions objectively; furthermore, because the prescriptivity of moral statements is culturally invariant, it allows us to avoid relativism.

Keywords: Categorical Imperative; Kant; logic; ought; prescriptivity; rationality; universal prescriptivism; universalizability

Chapter.  8373 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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