By Charles Stevenson
Scanned and OCRed book (reprint of Yale college Press, 1962)
Ethics and Language is a 1944 booklet by means of C. L. Stevenson which was once influential in furthering the metaethical view of emotivism first espoused through David Hume.
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Extra resources for Ethics and Language
Mencken The American Language York, 1919). In 4th ed. chap, vi, Sees. 5-8. (Alfred A. Knopf, New PRAGMATIC ASPECTS OF MEANING 41 It is clear, then, so far as one may generalize from these extremely simple examples, that emotive words are fitted both to express the feelings of the speaker and to evoke the feelings of the hearer, and that they derive this fitness from the habits that have been formed throughout the course of their use in emotional situations. A very close parallel to emotive meaning, in some ways more instructive than that of laughs and groans, can be found in the customs of etiquette.
These components, acting together, readily provide for agreement or disagreement in attitude. The following examples will illustrate how this is so: A: This is good. B: I fully agree. It is indeed good. Freely translated in accordance with model (3) above, this becomes, A: I approve of this; do so as well. B: I fully concur in approving of it; (continue to) do so as well. Here the declarative parts of the remarks, testifying to convergent attitudes, are sufficient to imply the agreement. But if taken alone, they hint too much at a bare description of attitudes.
There is an equally important aspect of their use which concerns the habits of the hearer. This can most readily be seen where one interjection replaces another, all else remaining roughly the same. When an actress properly utters the word "alas" she heightens the sympathies of her audience. In good measure the audience is swayed by her gestures and intonation, and by the general situation presented in the play. But the audience's habitual reaction to "alas" must not be neglected. " The scene would then become crude burlesque, so forcibly and incongruously would the habitual responses to "hurrah" clash with the manner of its utterance.