Here I wish to argue that ethics, as practiced, are emotions and not thoughts and are in fact prior to ethical thought processes. I will contend that they grow from genetic beginnings, being shaped culturally as we mature and remain susceptible to intellectual manipulation. Philosophers have many advantages over experimental scientists; we are able to reason from unverified premises just to see where it takes us. By these thought experiments we can explore new situations and new modes of thought, viewing reality from different angles. If we arrive at interesting conclusions, then these and our premises may prove worthy of experimental test beyond our field, in the same way as are the deliberations of theoretical scientists.
Emotivism reached prominence in the early 20th century, but it was born centuries earlier. In 1710, George Berkeley wrote that language in general often serves to inspire feelings as well as communicate ideas. Decades later, David Hume espoused ideas similar to Stevenson's later ones. In his 1751 book An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Hume considered morality to be related to fact but "determined by sentiment": In moral deliberations we must be acquainted beforehand with all the objects, and all their relations to each other; and from a comparison of the whole, fix our choice or approbation….While we are ignorant whether a man were aggressor or not, how can we determine whether the person who killed him be criminal or innocent? But after every circumstance, every relation is known; the understanding has no further room to operate, nor any object on which it could employ itself. The approbation or blame which then ensues cannot be the work of the judgments, but of the heart; and is not a speculative proposition or affirmation, but an active feeling or sentiment.
The role of emotions in ethics is often taken by philosophers and others as antithetical to rationality. But emotions can sometimes also be seen as supplying reasons for moral judgment to the extent that they involve evaluations and a way of communicating them across different moral perspectives. I think that typical human emotions are best viewed as having two connected evaluative aspects, affective and conceptual. First, to the extent that emotions are built on positive and negative feeling, feeling of a sort that we naturally find rewarding or aversive, they can be understood just at that level as "saying" something evaluative about their objects, representing their motivational significance for the agent. Rather, we need to mine human wisdom for the gold standard across time in order to establish “best practices” for the future. In so doing we come to understand that we are social creatures, driven by our emotions whose life force flows into the spaces between us. If we pollute the emotional environment with toxins of dishonesty, anger and greed, we diminish the quality of the atmosphere in which we operate. Conversely, if we flood this space with integrity, fairness decency and enthusiasm, we are empowered to deliver our best performance and creativity.
Every person looks for the greatest good in their live and most of their actions are a mean for that greatest good. The greatest good is happiness. Aristotle says “Everyone loves and seeks or pursues or desires everything they love or seek or pursue or desire for one and the same reason: because they hope it will make the happy.” Happiness is the one thing everyone searches for, no one does anything because they think it will make them unhappy. We do not seek happiness as a mean…