• Ayer set out to illustrate that existing meta-ethical theories were meaningless
  • he says intuition is meaningless as it is not based on any evidence or rational thought
  • naturalism is meaningless due to his belief in logical positivism and the 'Vienna circle' who created the 'verification principle' which stated that only analytic statements (true in itself) and synthetic statements (not true in itself) are meaningful 
  • he says that meta ethics is meaningless because he says at best ethical langauge is neutral 


  •  ethical language is no more than just expressions of emotion  'hurrah/boo theory' 
  • our emotional responses are subjective and not universal
  • ethical langauge is best left to psychology as it can study why an individual felt a way 
  • religious language can still be persuasive because we are expressing that we wish to have that emotion too
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C.L. Stevenson

  • He believes ethical language is dynamic as it has the power to command 
  • he says ethical debate could still be meaningful as peoples subjective a motive use of religious language are often based on objective facts 
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Challenges and strengths


  • no basic ethical principles ca be established 
  • ethical debate becomes a pointless activity 
  • there can be no universal agreement that some actions are wrong 


  • emotivism's subjective nature allows all opinions to be equally valid 
  • Emotivism effectively resolves the argument as to why ethical disputes an never be completely resolved 
  • emotivism is right that ethical language, in part, is meant to be persuasive 
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