On the Moral Epistemology of Ideal Observer Theories

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (3):359-374 (2006)
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: In this paper I attempt to defuse a set of epistemic worries commonly raised against ideal observer theories. The worries arise because of the omniscience often attributed to ideal observers – how can we, as finite humans, ever have access to the moral judgements or reactions of omniscient beings? I argue that many of the same concerns arise with respect to other moral theories (and that these concerns do not in fact reveal genuine flaws in any of these theories), and further, that we can and often do have knowledge of the reactions of ideal observers (according to standard, prominent theories in the domain of epistemology).

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Jason Kawall
Colgate University


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