Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Skype, Cameron in India and #58 Emotivism and prescriptivism


The brand leader in internet telephony is in the process of rolling out improvements and integration to the parent company's (Microsoft) own Messenger. The growth of P2P video telephony appears to me to be somewhat overdue, infrastructure and technology are now both in place as Social media platforms adapt to place the power of video at the core expect a step change in the way that personal communications add the visual. The improvements include the ability to leave video clips and will undoubtedly influence others with ambitions for popular instant messaging applications.

Cameron in India

The rule of unexpected consequences has been very much in evidence as the Conservative led coalition's 'tightening' of immigration controls has impacted on the UK PLC's education business. The rising Asian powers (notably China and India) have appreciated  the UK education's values and standards sending thousands of Students to UK Universities but new rules have made qualified graduates from outside the EU difficult to employ in Britain. The effect is to make the bright boys and girls of the superpowers think twice about studying in Britain -depriving  UK educational establishments of income and limiting private companies abilities  to employ young enthusiastic graduates from some of our most important trading partners. Cameron has undoubtedly been taking some heat for this mistaken policy during his Indian 'trade' visit.

Big Idea #58 is Emotivism and prescriptivism (ought)

Emotivism is also known as hurrah/boo theory

Prescriptivism says that "You ought to do this" is a universalizable prescription (not a truth claim), and means "Do this and let everyone do the same in similar cases." We are to pick our moral principles by trying to be informed and imaginative, and then seeing what we can consistently hold 
Moral beliefs are subject to two basic logical rules:
    U. To be logically consistent, we must make similar evaluations about similar cases.

    P. To be logically consistent, we must keep our moral beliefs in harmony with how we live and want others to live.
R M Hare
Rule U holds because moral judgements are universalizable: it's part of their meaning that they apply to similar cases. Rule P holds because moral judgements are prescriptions (imperatives), and thus express our will, or our desires, about how we and others are to live.

Two Big figures in this niche are:  
R M Hare (1919 to 2002) an Oxford educated who was Japanese prisoner of war during WWII  
his precursor was the impressive
A J (Alfred Jules) Ayer – Oxford educated and  four times married (including one wife twice)Humanist 1910 -1989

A J Ayer

There's a famous (infamous?)  story about Alfred  arguing with'Iron' Mike Tyson who was persistently making himself  available to  the (at the time) little-known model Naomi Campbell. When Ayer asked that Tyson stop, the boxer said:
"Do you know who the f**k  I am? I'm the heavyweight champion of the world,"
to which Ayer replied:
"And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both pre-eminent in our field. I suggest that we talk about this like rational men".
Ayer and Tyson then began to converse, and Naomi Campbell slipped away.