Why needed

 Information scarce

 Scientific investigation

 Single principle theorists

 Many moralities theorists

 Drop moral philosophy
 and develop moral
 science theorists

 20th century emotivists





 Criteria for a model


 General systems theory

 Emergent ethical theory



 Key points

For the future


From the Historical Collection of the work of Dr. Clare W. Graves of William R. Lee, March 2001




Drop Moral Philosophy and Develop Moral Science Theorists


The primary proponents of this point of view are the pragmatists with John Dewey, of course, the representative contributor. Dewey’s position is, beyond question, different from the single principle theorists: 


"Why have men become so attached to fixed, external ends?" he asked and he saw this reliance on the idea of fixed ends as the common element in most ethical theories and he criticized it strongly. He related how each theorist in his quest for certainty had been "hypnotized" by the notion that the business of ethics is to discover some final end or basic good or some ultimate and supreme law. 


Dewey argues also for a change to the modern scientific theory of nature. He expressed a desire to see moral philosophy become moral science, a body of knowledge consisting of testable hypotheses as to what is good for man, and he asked that this knowledge be open to continuous revision. Moral science would then be directed toward what is good for man, namely, his social welfare. But here we see our problem with the pragmatists. What is good for man? What is good for his welfare? Dewey and the pragmatists leave such unanswered and at this point the Emotivists enter.


The Twentieth Century Emotivists


Ethical emotivism claims that moral judgments are meaningless and should be viewed as neither true or false. Ethical judgments express one’s feelings about what is right and wrong, but ethical judgments do not tell in any way what is right and what is wrong.


It is with the latter point, of the emotivists that one takes exception, though one must point out the criticism may be unfair. It is made not because it is an established valid criticism but because it enables one to make a point concerning what those who develop models of ethical behavior must keep in mind. 


Let us grant that ethical judgments in no way tell us what is right or what is wrong. This seems obvious but this is not the point. The point is that if we develop models which enable us to explore what people judge as right and wrong, what people make what particular judgments, the circumstances under which they make them, the conditions which accompany change in judgments as to right and wrong, etc., we may find that "integrated synthesis of empirical data" and that "rigorous theory underlying it" which Bonner says is needed before we are to have that "science of character" he and Allport among others, see so needed. 


Actually I do not believe that Emotivists will disagree with what has just been said. On the contrary, it is probable that they do agree and that they have taken their position to indicate a need. They may be indicating that no theory of ethical behavior can have substance which does not

consider their point of view and that no research model can provide adequate research projects which is not an inclusive model or in the words of Bronner:


These widely used models do not convincingly represent man’s moral nature for they either neglect or do not pretend to account for man’s future oriented behavior. (1,p. )


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