Philosophy Word of the Day – Ideal Observer Theory

Ideal observer theory is the meta-ethical view which claims that:

  1. Ethical sentences express propositions.
  2. Some such propositions are true.
  3. Those propositions are about the attitudes of a hypothetical ideal observer.

In other words, ideal observer theory states that ethical judgments should be interpreted as statements about the judgments that a neutral and fully informed observer would make; “x is good” means “an ideal observer would approve of x“.

”The main idea [of the ideal observer theory] is that ethical terms should be defined after the pattern of the following example: “x is better than y” means “If anyone were, in respect of x and y, fully informed and vividly imaginative, impartial, in a calm frame of mind and otherwise normal, he would prefer x to y.”[1]

1. Brandt, Richard (1959). “Ethical Naturalism”. Ethical Theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. pp. 173. LCCN 59-075.

(Via Wikipedia)

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