Emotivism is a frame of thought that is of the opinion that matters ethics do not express propositions but in essence they express emotional attitudes. This therefore discredits ethics as a genuine and unbiased frame of thought and relegates it to the mere emotions of the person in question. Thus matters ethics are nothing more than a person expressing their emotions. This attaches an emotional paradigm to ethics ass a frame of thought and eliminates the matter of neutrality or rather lack of biasness from ethics as a discipline. Thus, according to emotivism moral judgments are nothing more than strong and firm expression of emotions that one either strongly feels or believes to be true. An example is the ethical opinion that a given act is a vice. The person in question expressing this opinion may have absolutely no tangible evidence that the matter in question is indeed a vice.
Common agreement among people might however, lead to the general thought that the matter in question is indeed a vice. Thus the matter can be declared ethically as a vice because it evokes the same emotional disposition in a large number of people. The ideal observer theory is however, one of the strongest objections to emotivism to date. This is because this principle banks its validity on the presence of an ideal observer. This ideal observer views matters from an unbiased point of view and is therefore not subject to influence by emotions or other factors that might affect the opinion of the observer. Thus from the ideal observer’s point of view ethics is a valid principle that should be adhered to. Emotivism is however better because the concept of an ideal observer is farfetched and to a great extent unrealistic. All people are subject to their emotions and influence.
The divine command theory is of the opinion that the validity of matters ethics can be established on whether or not the matter has been commanded by God. This means that God is the sole measuring bar as far as matters ethics are concerned. As such matters commanded by god are of the most importance and are the determinants of what is ethically acceptable and what is not. The weakness of the divine command theory is that it is firmly hinged on matters religion. It therefore rules out non-believers as ethically conscious people since they do not believe in God and thus their actions cannot be influenced by what is commanded by God. This theory also discredits a scientific evidence based way of thinking and stresses that religion is the only valid measuring bar as far as ethics are concerned.
The social contract theory takes a political paradigm in its explanation of the relationship between an individual and the state. This theory is of the opinion that individuals have to surrender some of their rights to the ruling authority and in return the ruling authority upholds the remaining rights of the individual. Thus the individual is in a contract with the state. This contract states that the individual will surrender certain rights to the state so that the state can uphold other rights of the citizen. Thus, according to the social contract theory matters ethics have to be sanctioned by the ruling authority. The weakness of this theory is that it gives too much power to the ruling authority as opposed to the individual who has comparatively none.
Rachels, J. (2005). The elements of moral philosophy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.