I've been wondering: what is morality about? I mean, what is the most fundamental analysis or 'essence' of the concept? Here are the possible answers I've thought of so far...
1) Morality is fundamentally concerned with prescriptive force - what you really ought, all things considered, to do.
The problem with this view is that I really haven't the faintest clue what 'prescriptive force' is, in any categorical sense, or whether it even exists. Same goes for the idea of what you 'really ought' to do (well, it's the very same idea, I think). I just cannot imagine what those words are supposed to mean. So long as I don't think about it too much, I can use the words competantly; I know how to use prescriptive language. I just don't get what it means - what sort of claims I'm making in doing so. (I'm tempted to go non-cognitivist on this one. But not on morality; see below.)
2) Morality is about acting on reasons, or doing what you have most reason to do.
Perhaps (1) just means the same as (2)? I can at least understand this one, I think. Though if reasons are anything like I suggested in the linked post, then this would lead to ethical egoism, which is very different from how morality is usually understood. Perhaps that simply shows that my previous post was wrong? But if reasons are something else entirely, then I'm not sure I understand them after all.
It seems obvious to me that a selfish rogue could easily have reason to act immorally. For some people, given their aims/desires, it would be downright irrational to do the right thing. So I think it's a mistake to conflate (individual) rationality and morality in this way. I much prefer the next option...
3) Morality is about what's good for everyone, socially rational, or justified from an impartial point of view. (I take those three to be equivalent.)
One might complain that any given individual won't necessarily have reason to act altruistically. But given my earlier remarks, it should be clear that I consider this a point in favour of this analysis!
[Updated to add:]
4) Norm expressivism. Moral language is for expressing the mental state of accepting a norm.
I think this is far and away the most plausible form of moral non-cognitivism. But that's not saying much. I still think it's silly to deny that moral beliefs are, well, beliefs, i.e. have cognitive content and so can be true or false.
Can you think of any other options? Which analysis do you prefer, and why?