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A role for structured observation in ethics

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Progress in the natural sciences has depended upon the collection and use of carefully controlled observational data. By contrast, ethicists have failed to agree upon a role for observational data in their enterprise. Although factors embedded in the human condition obscure the role of observational data in ethical theory, barriers to the use of such data in ethics may be superable. Observation may not provide definitive answers to most ethical or metaethical questions. However observation of carefully constructed experimental conditions may provide the basis for cumulative progress in some branches of ethics.

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Correspondence to Joe Oppenheimer.

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Frohlich, N., Oppenheimer, J. A role for structured observation in ethics. Soc Just Res 10, 1–21 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-997-0009-0

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Key Words

  • ethics
  • justice
  • experiments
  • methodology
  • impartial reasoning