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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L076-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Prescriptivism is a theory about moral statements. It claims that such statements contain an element of meaning which serves to prescribe or direct actions. The history of prescriptivism includes Socrates, Aristotle, Hume, Kant and Mill, and it has been influential also in recent times.

Moral statements also contain a factual or descriptive element. The descriptive element of morality differs between persons and cultures, but the prescriptive element remains constant.

Prescriptivism can allow for moral disagreement, and explain moral weakness. It can also explain better than other theories the rationality and objectivity of moral thinking.

Citing this article:
Hare, R.M.. Prescriptivism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L076-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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