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date: 16 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Meta-ethics is the study of the nature of moral thought and judgement. This involves moral metaphysics, moral epistemology, moral psychology, and moral motivation. The first forty years of the twentieth century were dominated by forms of ethical intuitionism, which were supplanted by Charles Stevenson’s emotivism and Richard Hare’s universal prescriptivism. These reigned in turn until the early 1970s, at which point Hare’s dominance suffered a sudden eclipse. The situation for the last three decades of the century was much more fluid, with new positions emerging but none of them achieving the sort of paradigm status that intuitionism enjoyed at the outset. This chapter provides an overview of meta-ethics in the twentieth century and discusses G. E. Moore’s Principia Ethica (1903) as well as his views on the Open Question Argument.

Keywords: meta-ethics, moral judgement, ethical intuitionism, Charles Stevenson, emotivism, Richard Hare, universal prescriptivism, G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica, Open Question Argument

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