more from A.J. Ayer

Single Idea 6969

[catalogued under 22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / h. Expressivism]

Full Idea

In saying that Brutus or Raskolnikov acted rightly, I am giving myself and others leave to imitate them should similar circumstances arise.


Brutus murdered Julius Caesar; Raskolnikov is a fictional murderer in 'Crime and Punishment'

Gist of Idea

Approval of historical or fictional murders gives us leave to imitate them


A.J. Ayer (On the analysis of moral judgements [1949], p.237)

Book Reference

Ayer,A.J.: 'Philosophical Essays' [Macmillan 1965], p.237

A Reaction

This seems to be a reply to the Frege-Geach Problem, of why we have emotional attitudes to crimes that mean nothing to us. Such crimes, however, involve our virtues, and don't depend on awaiting 'similar circumstances'.

Related Idea

Idea 7333 The Frege-Geach problem is that I can discuss the wrongness of murder without disapproval [Miller,A]