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The view that ethical utterances serve to express emotional or affective states, rather than to state truths or falsehoods. The emotive theory was first presented in the 20th century in The Meaning of Meaning (1923) by C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards. But precursors include Berkeley's view of the non-representative character of much language, the sentimentalist tradition in British ethical theory, and projective theories of various parts of discourse. It was a popular way of dealing with the non-empirical yet non-logical character of ethics among the logical positivists. Its problems include accounting for the way ethical assertions appear to be capable of truth and falsity, and identifying the characteristic states they supposedly express. See also expressivism, non-cognitivism, quasi-realism.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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