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emotive meaning

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics, philosophy of language a term introduced by the logical positivists in their discussions of the verifiability criterion. According to that criterion, only statements that can be checked by empirical evidence are meaningful. However, there are many apparently meaningful statements, such as those associated with moral discourse, which cannot be tested by experience. The logical positivists claimed that such statements are not factually or cognitively meaningful, but have emotive meaning, that is, emotive force. A detailed discussion of emotive meaning was developed by C. K. Ogden and I. A.Richards, who distinguish the symbolic (referential) and emotive functions of language. In their symbolic function, statements refer to things; in their emotive function, they express and evoke feelings and attitudes. In his emotivism, C. L. Stevenson distinguished between the descriptive meaning and emotive meaning of expressions. The distinction lies in the kind of states of mind expressed or aroused. If the state of mind is cognitive, the meaning of the term conveys information and is descriptive. If the state of mind is affective or emotional, the meaning of the expression is emotive. Expressions in emotive meanings do not refer to the qualities of things, but prescribe a particular action or course of conduct. According to Stevenson, the meaning of ethical terms is descriptive ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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