Is the ideal agent the ideal observer?

Without googling it, I mean the former is the best moral agent, and the latter some meta-ethical (can't recall what meta-ethics) abstraction that judges everyone's agency as moral or immoral. I suppose that the ideal observer may not have agency, even ideally, unlike the ideal agent. But I wondered if any philosopher, explicitly or implicitly, equates the two.

I suppose I'm wondering if we gradually approach them, through virtuous character. Or is there something about personhood that means we both exist in any agency, as potential, ready for resolution, maybe.

  • In which sense do you mean "ideal"?
    – Frank
    Apr 7 at 23:54
  • Best @Frank ...
    – user65545
    Apr 8 at 0:00
  • Hmmm - not sure - what are the properties of the "best" agent, compared to a "normal" agent? Also not sure what you put in "agent", actually.
    – Frank
    Apr 8 at 0:04
  • Commonly, the observer is the subject, and it's essentially passive. The opposite is the active, the agent (who acts), and it's usually the observed, that is, the object. Both seem complete opposites: subject/object, passive/active(agent), observer/observed. But perhaps there is someone, I remember hearing some philosopher stating that without agency power , the subject can't know morals (not my specific subject).
    – RodolfoAP
    Apr 8 at 3:55

1 Answer 1


Five cents.

According to philosophical traditions like marxism, existentialism and pragmatism, one cannot separate knowledge from practice and interaction.

That is, an observer can only know through interaction and the agent cannot avoid knowing through interaction.

So, both a pure observer that only perceives, and a pure agent that only acts are impossibilities. So one can talk only of agent-observers.

What would an ideal agent-observer be, depends on what "ideal" would be taken to mean. Assuming we are not already as ideal agent-observers as we could be.

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