Moral Facts and Suitably Informed Subjects: A Reply to Denham

11 Pages Posted: 8 May 2006


The nature of moral facts, and their relationship to rationality, imagination and sentiment, have been central and pressing issues in recent moral philosophy. In this paper, I discuss and criticise a meta-ethical theory put forward by Alison Denham, which views moral facts as being constituted by the responses of ideal, empathetic agents. I argue that Denham`s account is radically unstable, in that she has given us an account of the nature of such agents which is inconsistent with an independently plausible principle relating to concept acquisition. I go on to discuss one line of defence that Denham might employ, but argue that taking such a line entails abandoning what she takes to be an important advantage of her account over rival ideal-observer theories such as Michael Smith's.

Suggested Citation

McGonigal, Andrew, Moral Facts and Suitably Informed Subjects: A Reply to Denham. Ratio, Vol. 18, pp. 82-92, March 2005, Available at SSRN: or

Andrew McGonigal (Contact Author)

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