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In 2006, Michael Zimmerman published an underappreciated paper on the nature of moral obligation in which he argued that our moral obligations depend, not on the facts or our beliefs, but on the evidence available to us (see “Is Moral Obligation Objective or Subjective?” Utilitas 18, 2006, pp. 329–361). Two years later, he published a lengthy book in which he argued more thoroughly for the same conclusion (see Living with Uncertainty: The Moral Significance of Ignorance, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)). In Ignorance and Moral Obligation, Zimmerman returns to the central question of those works to respond to objections that have been brought against the views he presented therein. Though not without its flaws, Zimmerman’s new book is the most thorough defense of what has come to be known as the Prospective View of moral obligation and as such is a must-read for those working in normative ethics narrowly construed.


This book review was published while Prof. Jonathan Spelman was part of the University of Colorado Boulder. The book review found here is a pre-print, and the published copy can be found using this link.