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Ethical Subjectivism and Emotivism in Society Essay

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2022

Introduction

Ethical subjectivism believes that various sentences do express certain opinions. These views, shaped from different human behavior form judgments and moral ways of thinking. Ethical subjectivism is of the view that these judgments are limited to perceptions. This means that they are subjective. In essence, there aren’t any allowed or prohibited ways of thinking or expressing oneself under subjectivism. There is only true or false n its evaluation (Rachels & Rachels, 2010).

Certain cultural or individual feelings do vary and are the main feeder for moral views of that particular time. An example is a study carried out on the view of employers towards men who wear dreadlocks to work. In some companies and various geographical locations, dreadlocks were seen not to be decent, way back in the early ninety’s. However, the same study in the same companies and locations ten years later reveals the perception of dreadlocks as indecent, has gradually gone down. The main expression is that there is a need for tolerance since what society views as truth at a certain time is shaped by feelings that are subject to change (Feinberg & Shafer-Landau, 2008).

Simple subjectivism and emotivism

The simple form of subjectivism highlights the heavy reliance of judging a certain object, on a person’s emotional attitude. For example, is like; Martin loves dogs, but Mary doesn’t. Under these views, there is absolutely nothing left for argument’s sake. The rule here is for one to respect the perceptions of another person and vice versa. Emotivism is of the view that statements can be used to alter and control the attitude of other human beings (Feinberg & Shafer-Landau, 2008). It conveys that statements are simply not just that but an expression of attitude. For example, I think global warming is natural but my friend thinks it’s a result of environmental degradation. The difference between the two views is a belief thing. Emotivism doesn’t believe in right or wrong it looks at an argument based on the driving emotion behind the statement.

Emotivism improvement on simple subjectivism

Emotivism does remove the total disregard as wrong, or labeling completely right a simple subjectivism statement. It broadens the use of statements from a personal expression to using them to influence others. It does highlight the difference between expressing and reporting an attitude. Say, for example; I love water is a form of reported attitude, while water is life is an expressed attitude. Emotivism removes the implications of statements made by simple subjectivism, which may be used to judge a speaker based on the facts they convey. It instead declares the statement as non-factual, bearing no personal representation of the speaker, but portrays them as a tool used by the speaker to achieve a certain goal mainly influence (Rachels & Rachels, 2010). It allows debate on certain statements based on the underlying attitude. An example of a statement of simple subjectivism; abortion is evil. The reader will constrict this view to the writer’s dislike of abortion. However, emotivism further gives the statement broad application to sound like a piece of advice that abortion isn’t a proper thing to engage in. The latter affects more people and can influence them than a simple subjective statement.

Challenge of simple subjectivism and emotivism

Both are of the view that one has to exercise tolerance when dealing with another person’s views since they are not subject to reproach. While under simple subjectivism, one’s opinions are considered to be according to his opinion, emotivism has no place for right or wrong. In both of them, morality is determined by a person’s feelings (Singer, 1993). The challenge is that they are unable to account for the use of moral reason as a driver behind an emotive statement. Another challenge is that statements from both views are hard to prove. We may argue about certain ethical views but it’s hard to substantiate our arguments based on some sort of proof. When influencing people the target crowd may just reject or not appreciate your argument. This doesn’t mean that the statement is incorrect, but rather you may have been facing a skeptic crowd (Rachels & Rachels, 2010).

Conclusion

Feelings are the fickle and most unstable of things in human life. At a certain time in a society, the general feeling regarding something may be negative, leading towards judging it as an immoral thing. After some time, the same society’s feelings change, and what they considered immoral becomes the accepted norm. Ethical subjectivism fails to look at the moral reason behind some statements. In as much as ethics cannot be divorced from emotions, we need to be guided more by reason if we are to capture the true sense of moral thinking.

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