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Ayer’s Argument Against Ethical Objectivism


Objectivism is also called philosophical realism. It claims that reality or facts do not depend on the mind of the individual and that facts do not change. The claims made are not necessarily true; they at times could be false. Ethical objectivism has to do with morals (Waller, 2008). The opinions do not correlate with the beliefs of any individual person. Alfred Jules was for ethical subjectivism which states that individuals’ morals play a great part in the determination of whether moral statements are true or false.

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Arguments against Ethical Objectivism

Ayer (1998) believes that objective ethical truths do not exist. This is also referred to as ethical non objectivism and it has several versions of emotivism. Emotivism is a view which argues all ethical statements express the emotional position which is normally influenced by logical positivism. He also claims that ethical conclusions cannot be established because it is not possible to translate moral judgments into practical stipulations (Ayer, 1996). He feels that Moore is not experimental and it is like he refutes naturalism. Ayer argues that there is a great need to have some supporting evidence to the laid down statements or declarations due to the existence of moral diversity where by different groups of people have various beliefs and practices. He says that there are no elaborate explanations that can support an ethical statement because of the cultural diversity hence there is a lack of objectivism in it.

Unlike ethical objectivity, Ayer (1998) feels that the inclusion of ethical symbols has nothing to do with factual content and thus renders it irrelevant. This is because symbols do not add any supporting evidence to the already stated claim (Ayer, 1996). He says that for example to say that something is seriously wrong lets say cheating, does not add quality to the statement but only adds intensity to the speaker’s opinion. To him, a declaration only qualifies to be called a true statement only if it is free from the speaker’s opinions. The conclusion that the statement is wrong is not based on the statement itself but the perception of the speaker.

Ayer (1998) prefers subjectivism because he thinks it is simpler hence easily understood than objectivism. He believes that mere beliefs with no reason may not convincingly motivate individuals just by themselves thus there is a need to dif deeper into any information (Ayer, 1998). Some philosophers felt that since it is not possible to verify that some statements are correct then there is a need to put the individual ideas into it as it would be the only alternative.

When dealing with political issues, democracy must apply where everyone has an opportunity to air their views which must be treated with all due respect. This can only be achieved through ethical subjectivism (Ayer, 1998). Arguing from an emotional point of view, there is a need to understand that rational judgments cannot be made when an individual does not have proper emotional responses. It is also clear when looking from the disagreements, the differences portrayed in such circumstances help us to understand the differences that are in the subjective attitudes.


In conclusion, Ayer (1998) had some reasons that we need to understand to support him in his arguments. It is however not true that ethical objective is not applicable, in many situations because in some cases there is always supporting evidence which does not necessarily depend on the mind.


Ayer, A. J. (1996). Critique of Ethics and Theology, in Language, Truth and Logic. (G. S. McCord ed.). New York, NY: Dover Publications.

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Ayer, A. J. (1998). The Emotive Theory of Morality. (J. P. Sterba ed.). New York, NY: Dover Publications.

Waller, Bruce N. (2008). Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues.2nd ed. New York: Pearson/Longman.

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