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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 56, Issue 3, 2019

Roman A. Yuriev
Pages 76-87
DOI: 10.5840/eps201956350

A.J. Ayer and J.L. Austin: from “Ethical Judgements” to “Performative”

The article considers the thesis about A. Ayer’s radical empiricism as one of the possible conceptual sources for the development of the theory of J. Austin’s speech acts. In contemporary research literature more attention is devoted to the inquiry of the discussion between A. Ayer and J. Austin on the matter of “sense-data”. At the same time it can be stated that few attention is devoted to the historical and philosophical reconstruction of their mutual influence. The importance of this kind of reconstruction is caused by the fact that contention between A. Ayer and J. Austin in Oxford during 1930s and 1940s can be viewed as preliminary work of reception of the idea of L. Wittgenstein’s “language-games”. By comparing A. Ayer’s “empirical / ethical” and J. Austin’s “conservative / performative” oppositions one could show that A. Ayer’s earlier views on ethics expressed in his work “Language, Truth and Logic “cannot be unconditionally attributed to the logical positivism. Ayer’s following statements were considered: 1) ethical judgements state as judgments of arousal of feelings and stimulation to action; 2) ethical judgements state as expression of ethical feelings; 3) ethical judgements add nothing in terms of factual meaning; 4) feelings are not a necessary condition for their expression. In conclusion one can say that in a certain sense Ayer’s approach to the ethical judgment is open to understanding that the meaning of a word is its use in the language. The results of its ethical analysis can be viewed as an important impulse to the development of ordinary language philosophy. Therefore, it is possible to consider logical positivism as including the inevitable premises for creation the ordinary language philosophy.