You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.


6. R. M. Hare and Prescriptivism

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we think about R. M. Hare’s theory of prescriptivism, focusing in particular on: (i) Hare’s view that that emotivism doesn’t capture the ability to justify one’s moral commitments; (ii) emotivism’s failure to account for the idea that some moral positions can be inconsistent with others; (iii) Hare’s view that moral language has a prescriptive function; (iv) Hare’s views on how prescriptions interact with each other – consistency and impartiality; and (v) the extent to which Hare’s views on how moral language works leads back to a particular normative ethical theory.


In this course, Dr Iain Law (University of Birmingham) provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of philosophy known as metaethics. In the first module, we provide an introduction to metaethics itself, including the difference between metaethics and normative ethical theories such as utilitarianism and virtue ethics and some of the key questions that metaethics poses. In the second and third modules, we explore two approaches to metaethics that agree moral properties exist (moral realism) but disagree as to the nature of these properties: naturalism and non-naturalism. In the fourth module, we explore two arguments from David Hume that move us towards a view that contribute to how we think and talk about metaethics, before turning in the fifth, sixth and seventh modules to three accounts of metaethics that agree that moral properties do not exist (moral anti-realism) but disagree as what is going on when we make a moral statement – A. J. Ayer and Emotivism, R. M. Hare and Prescriptivism, and J. M. Mackie and Moral Error Theory.


Iain Law is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. His main interests are in meta-ethics, applied ethics and ethical theory, and he is currently working on papers in moral theory, moral psychology, the philosophy of medicine and applied ethics.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Law, I. (2021, January 01). Metaethics - R. M. Hare and Prescriptivism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Law, I. "Metaethics – R. M. Hare and Prescriptivism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Jan 2021,