III
Some Pragmatic Aspects of Meaning?

1

IF we are to reach a more detailed understanding of ethics, guarding its issues from confusion, and opening them to economical types of inquiry, we must pay constant attention to ethical language, and the logical and psychological factors which permit it to have its characteristic functions. The need of this approach, and the central topics it introduces, will be evident from the preceding chapter.

Certain parts of the study could be developed immediately, with reference to ethical examples alone; but there are other parts of it which require more comprehensive treatment. A background must be sought in a general theory of signs, yielding conclusions that can subsequently be extended to the more specific problems that concern us. This is especially necessary in connection with the emotive uses of language, which in spite of many recent studies are still in need of careful examination. And care is needed, no less urgently, in showing how emotive and descriptive meanings are related, each modifying the other. These topics, lying somewhat beyond the narrower province of ethical analysis, will form the subject matter of the present chapter. There can be no hope or pretense, of course, of exhausting so large a subject, but perhaps enough can be said to serve present purposes.


2

THE emotive meaning of words can best be understood by comparing and contrasting it with the expressiveness of laughs, sighs, groans, and all similar manifestations of the emotions, whether by voice or gesture. It is obvious that these "natural" expressions are direct behavioristic symptoms of the emotions or feelings to which they testify. A laugh gives direct "vent" to the amusement which it accompanies, and does so in such an intimate, inevitable way that if the laugh is checked, some degree of

-37-

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Ethics and Language
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Ethics and Language 1
  • II - Working Models 20
  • III - Some Pragmatic Aspects of Meaning? 37
  • Iv First Pattern of Analysis 81
  • V - First Pattern: Method 111
  • VI - Persuasion 139
  • VII - Validity 152
  • VIII - Intrinsic and Extrinsic Value 174
  • IX - Second Pattern of Analysis: Persuasive Definitions 206
  • X - Second Pattern: Method 227
  • XI - Moralists and Propagandists 243
  • XII - Some Related Theories 253
  • XIII - Further Observations on the Function of Definitions 277
  • XIV - Avoidability; Indeterminism 298
  • XV - Practical Implications 319
  • Index of Proper Names 337
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