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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ethical theory based on the ideas and methodology of logical positivism. According to the theory, moral judgments and terms are neither true nor false; they are devoid of cognitive content, since they cannot be verified by experience. They are significant only to the extent that they express moral emotions (for example, the emotions of the speaker).

Viewing moral concepts as arbitrary, emotivism presents a nihilistic interpretation of morality. It gained currency between the 1920’s and 1940’s in Great Britain, Austria, and the USA. Its chief spokesmen have been A. Ayer, B. Russell, R. Carnap and H. Reichenbach.


Drobnitskii, O. G., and T. A. Kuz’mina. Kritika sovremennykh burzhuaznykh eticheskikh kontseptsii. Moscow, 1967. Chapter 4.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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For the sake of completeness, it should be added that while both share the idea that no one has rational access to the truth of value judgments, only the most radical logical positivists and British analytical philosophers such as Ogden, Ayer and Stevenson endorsed the meta-ethical view of emotivism (48).
A critique of emotivism an aesthetic accounts of visual art.
Thus, for instance, James Rachels (2011) writing about subjectivism in ethics first discusses the basic idea of ethical subjectivism and the evolution of the theory from simple subjectivism to emotivism in order to introduce "moral facts." Rachels then discusses "proofs" in ethics in terms of the process of giving reasons and explaining why reasons matter by offering the following example: once we know that Jones is a bad man because he is a habitual liar, then we can go on to explain why lying is bad.
And whether consciously or not, they embraced a right-of-center version of emotivism: the idea that feelings are a reliable and sufficient guide to truth and right conduct.
This de-traditioning leaves them to fall back onto a vague emotivism advancing the idea that it is the feelings of the individual that is the sole arbitrator for truth and ethical decision-making (MacIntyre, 2007; Wright & Strawn, 2010).
(18) Emotivism asserts that moral terms are defined by individual emotions and desires; and since emotions are relative to each individual, there is no objective or universal truth.(19) Relativism holds that there are no universal truths; moral truth and moral terms are defined either socially or individually.
From these different sources individualism, subjectivism, and ethical emotivism have characterized modernity significantly and distinctively.
Fritz (communication and rhetorical studies, Duquesne U.) offers this text as an entry point for remedying what she terms "the crisis of incivility plaguing today's workplace." She advocates the virtue ethics of Alastair MacIntyre and an appreciation for publicly agreed-upon standards of communication, rather than "an individualistic ethic of emotivism" that plagues professional organizations.
And the hostility to belief--to final truths-that characterizes the modern academy is of a piece with emotivism in ethics and the absence of a common good in our wider social and political life.
Emotivism (8) must also be false since it is necessary for the subject to use reason in order to identify those values.