The article analyses the terms “value” and “explanation” as used in ethical studies, offers a critique of this usage and an alternative, pragmatically oriented semantics of ethical terms, based on the illocutionary act of judging. The term “value” is supposed to describe a super-predicate common to both ethical and aesthetical value judgments. However, the traditional over-reliance on the copulative predication and the idea that language describes reality lead to a one-sided view of ethical terms, and a construction of sentences like “The intentional torturing of little children is morally wrong”, whose pragmatic function, and consequently meaning, is very unclear. If, on the other hand, we take as our paradigm the act of judging (in the literal sense of a judge presiding over a case) we will be able to sketch a new, lighter ethics which, admittedly, falls short of the traditional demands placed on this discipline, but whose semantics is closer to the actual words used in expressing approval and disapproval.
ethics, explanation, judgment, pragmatics, semantics, value