1

I have a quote from Ayer's "Language, truth and logic":

If now I generalize my previous statement and say, ‘Stealing money is wrong,’ I produce a sentence which has no factual meaning – that is, expresses no proposition which can be either true or false. It is as if I had written ‘Stealing money!!’ – where the shape and thickness of the exclamation marks show, by a suitable convention, that a special sort of moral disapproval is the feeling which is being expressed. It is clear that there is nothing said here which can be true or false. Another man may disagree with me about the wrongness of stealing, in the sense that he may not have the same feelings about stealing as I have, and he may quarrel with me on account of my moral sentiments. But he cannot, strictly speaking, contradict me. For in saying that a certain type of action is right or wrong, I am not making any factual statement, not even a statement about my own state of mind.

Why is this statement not about the state of mind? Is by saying "stealing is wrong" not I'm saying "I feel that stealing is wrong"? And if so, then isn't it the factual statement about myself?

Is there any factual propositions about emotions at all, from the logical positivistic point of view?

P.S. First of all I really need you explain why author said that the proposition he mentioned was not about the state of someone's mind.

6
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Why is emotivism unpopular?
    – user71009
    Commented Feb 3 at 19:55
  • 1
    Emotivism and its variants such as quasi-realism are the kind of metaphysics the positivists targeted to outright reject as philosophical illusions whose statement you can neither verify nor falsify, unlike the usual stable state of your mind often manifested in your manners... Commented Feb 3 at 22:00
  • @DoubleKnot, okay. Can you also explain why Ayer said that this statement is not about the state of mind? Commented Feb 4 at 1:35
  • 1
    P.S. First of all I really need you explain why author said that the proposition he mentioned was not about the state of someone's mind. - Because people say things when they are out of their mind! Commented Feb 4 at 2:56
  • 1
    For Ayer state of mind is part of the factual state of affairs which can be empirically verified, and clearly you already understood moral statements are emotional expressions which lack factual content to be expressible as propositions... Commented Feb 4 at 5:41

1 Answer 1

0

If Ayer's had said 'I am currently thinking that stealing money is wrong', he would have been making a statement about his own state of mind. If he just says 'stealing money its wrong' he is not making a statement about his own state of mind. You might infer from the statement, rightly or wrongly, something about the state of his mind, but the statement is not explicitly about it.

1
  • The absence of grammatical explicitness didn't seem as problem so far. I just don't realize why the "I feel/consider/think"-part of the sentence suddenly became so important for Ayer. Because before it he easily claimed that what some people say grammatically is different from what we must see in their words. Why did he stop here? Commented Feb 4 at 18:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .