Chapter

Descriptive Meaning

R. M. Hare

in Freedom and Reason

Published in print June 1965 | ISBN: 9780198810926
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597589 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019881092X.003.0002
 Descriptive Meaning

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Outlines the features of descriptive terms and judgements. The role played by descriptive meaning in moral statements is elucidated by examining the general nature of descriptivist statements and the connection with universalizability. It is argued that any singular descriptive judgement is universalizable in the sense that it commits the speaker to making the same judgement about relevantly similar subjects. Value judgements and generally descriptive judgements share descriptive content and are therefore universalizable in the same way. But in the case of moral judgements, the universal rules that determine the descriptive meaning are not mere meaning‐rules, but rules of substance. The logical connections between descriptivism, prescriptivism, naturalism, and the thesis of universalizability are explored.

Keywords: descriptivism; moral judgement; naturalism; prescriptivism

Chapter.  8409 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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