On not deriving ‘ought’ from ‘is’

  • Antony Flew
Part of the Controversies in Philosophy book series (COIPHIL)


In How to do Things with Words (Oxford 1962) there is a promise which Austin, unfortunately, did not live to try to fulfil. In introducing his fivefold classification into verdictives, exercitives, commissives, behabitives, and expositives Austin suggests that this classification is ‘quite enough to play Old Harry with two fetishes which I admit to an inclination to play Old Harry with, viz. (1) the true/ false fetish (2) the value/fact fetish’ (p. 150). Perhaps it is; but Austin made there no attempt to show why the possibility of making his fivefold classification must qualify or undermine the possibility of distinguishing issues of fact from issues of value, or the need sometimes to insist on the difference. Indeed from what he actually says it is not clear precisely what he wished to play Old Harry with; and hence even less clear how the exercise was to be performed.


Moral Opinion Normative Conclusion Naturalistic Fallacy Illocutionary Force Evaluative Statement 
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  1. 3.
    R. M. Hare, Freedom and Reason (Oxford 1963) p. 2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antony Flew
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KeeleUSA

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