more from A.J. Ayer

Single Idea 6973

[catalogued under 22. Metaethics / A. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / d. Ethical theory]

Full Idea

All moral theories, intuitionist, naturalistic, objectivist, emotive, and the rest, in so far as they are philosophical theories, are neutral as regards actual conduct; they belong to the field of meta-ethics, not ethics proper.

Gist of Idea

Moral theories are all meta-ethical, and are neutral as regards actual conduct


A.J. Ayer (On the analysis of moral judgements [1949])

Book Reference

Ayer,A.J.: 'Philosophical Essays' [Macmillan 1965], p.246

A Reaction

Interestingly, Ayer doesn't seem willing to accept 'ethics proper' as being 'philosophical'. Given the modern rise of applied ethics, it seems suprising to say that even normative ethics is not philosophical. Utilitarianism seems not to be philosophical.