Emotywizm a marksizm

Marek Fritzhand


Taking as point of departure an analysis of Ayer’s radical emotivism and Stevenson’s moderate emotivism, the author attempts to provide an answer to the question, what is the particular set of theses that should be accepted as being characteristic of emotivism? And emotivism itself he examines from the point of view of three possible ways of its interpretation – namely, (a) as a theory relating current meanings assigned to ethical terms and enunciations, (b) as a theory relating the actual functioning of such terms and enunciations in current speech, (c} as a proposed manner of logically correct usage of these terms and enunciations. In the course of his argument the author endeavours to show that contrary to verbal appearances there is no basic qualitative difference between the point of view of radical emotivism and of moderate emotivism.

Having settled on the set of theses characteristic of emotivism and taking as point of issue a critical evaluation of both kinds of emotivism, the author arrives at the conclusion that there is no corroboration for emotivism either in popular interpretation of ethical terms and enunciations or in their actual functioning in current speech. On the contrary, unbiased analysis of moral discourse speaks agents the emotive theory. Its fundamental error consists in confusing emotive discourse with what is properly ethical discourse or in reducing the latter to the former. Whereas one merit of emotivism is that it has provided an analysis of the properties of emotive discourse – though these are by no means identical with ethical discourse properties.

Now were we to interpret emotivism as a proposed version of correct usage of ethical language then, in the first place, such a proposal finds no support in actual facts and, secondly, it contravenes endeavours to introduce rational procedures in to normative ethics, thus de facto cutting it off from science. Finally then. Since emotivism cannot be regarded as a sound theory, or at least a probable one, it therefore leaves open once more the field of epistemological and methodological investigations associated with normative ethics which it bad hitherto kept blocked up.

On the basis of analysis of emotivism, author opposes certain objections made to emotivism by contemporary Marxist literature. These objection are resulting from an insufficiently deep exploration of the essence of the emotive theory. The author further points to the fact that it is possible easily to detect in the works classics of Marxism, two apparently incompatible tendencies. The first comes in connection with the Marxist classics views asserting all moral conceptions to he basically an expression of class interests and an instrument of class struggle. Thus the classics perfectly appreciate the dynamic and practical aspect of moral notions and their capacity to influence human attitudes and conduct. Therein they can legitimately be regarded as the forerunners of emotivism. On the other hand however, from their numerous enunciations it is clearly visible that they postulate a cognitive (in the wide, not merely descriptive, sense of the term) character of moral conceptions, likening normative ethics to other sciences and professing the opinion that moral convictions are capable of being backed with rational grounds especially that it is possible to provide demonstration to the superiority of socialist morality over all the moralities preceding it.

In the author’s opinion there really is no discrepancy between the above two tendencies. The key to solving that problem is to be found in a clear differentiation between what is the emotive, and what the moral sphere. In that way, the former tendency is right in view of the emotive discourse, while the latter is right in view of the moral discourse. The classics of Marxism simply approached moral concepts and ideas from two different angles, namely, from the angle of their emotive function and, from that of what properly is their moral function. And in both cases – such is the author’s opinion – their approach was correct.