The Partially Impartial Spectator


  • Sveinung Sundfør Sivertsen University of Bergen, Norway



According to Adam Smith, we appeal to the imagined reactions of an ‘impartial spectator’ when justifying moral judgements of others and aspire to be impartial spectators when making judgements of ourselves. However, psychological research has shown that trying to be impartial will often have the paradoxical effect of reinforcing other-directed prejudice and self-serving bias. I argue that we can get around this problem by aspiring to be ‘partially impartial spectators’ instead.

Author Biography

Sveinung Sundfør Sivertsen, University of Bergen, Norway

Sveinung Sundfør Sivertsen is a guest researcher at the University of Bergen and a philosopher at the Norwegian NGO Fremtenkt.




How to Cite

Sivertsen, S. S. (2023). The Partially Impartial Spectator. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 16(2), 1–24.