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ABSTRACT. In this paper, partly historical and partly theoretical, after having shorting outlined the development of meta-ethics in the 1900’s, starting from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, I argued it is possible to sustain that emotivism and intuitionism are unsatisfactory ethical conceptions, while, on the contrary, reason plays an effective role both in ethical discussions and in choices. There are some characteristics of the ethical language (prescriptivity, universalizability and predominance) that cannot be eluded (pain the non significativity of the same language) by those who want to morally reason. These characteristics can be found whether or not all possible ontological-metaphysics foundations of morals are taken into account. Furthermore, the deontic logic systems allow the formalization of ethical theories and ? at least in principle ? a rigorous critical discussion of the same, but obviously nothing can be affirmed on the value of truth of the axioms of a system. In the deontic logic systems, Hume’s law is assumed as an implicit result of inferential (conventional) rules. The acceptance of Hume’s law as a logical-linguistic thesis does not involve the cancellation of values (nihilism) or ethical relativism or indifferentism.

 

KEYWORDS: meta-ethics, emotivism, intuitionism, rationality, deontic logic, Hume’s law

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