How can Nifong's moral failure be explained in meta-ethical terms? Metaphysical moralism is based on the concept that “ethical terms such as 'right' and 'good' and the ethical statements containing then refer not to natural properties such as pleasure or happiness...but to certain metaphysical properties which are not directly observable because they belong to things in another or supernatural order” (Hall, Dennis, & Chipman 1999, p.150). Metaphysical moralism attempts to define “ethical terms in nonethical terms” (ibid, p. 151) Ideal Observer Theory has another take on the observation of ethics; in the analysis of the statement “X is right”, Brandt quotes Firth , “If there were a person who was omniesct, omniperceptent, disinterested and dispassionate, but in other respects normal, then he would have a certain experience (e.g feel approval, experience an apparent requiredness, etc) with respect to 'X'”; Brandt goes on to say that “ethical predicates are absolute, although relational, dospositional, objective, and observable or emprical”. Basically, if the statement “X is right is made, then an ideal observer would agree with that statement.(Brandt, 1955, para 1) Intuitionism makes three claims: first, that "good" is indefinable, secomd, that there are objective moral truths, and finally, that the basic moral truths are self-evident to a mature mind. In contrast, emotivism suggests that moral judgments reflect feelings, leading to the idea that since moral judgments are reflections, they can't be true or false.
In terms of normative ethics, either utilitarian or deontological, Nifong clearly failed in his moral duty. “An important aspirational principle of the American public prosecutor is that he or she should first seek justice rather than being motivated simply to win the case. A subpart of that command is that the prosecutor should not charge or convict an innocent person. Often this command is stated in terms of the importance of the prosecutor reaching his or her own conclusion about the guilt of the defendant.” (Mosteller, 2008, p.309) The consequences of failing to uphold that principle include the severe repercussions to the defendants as well as the public's loss of faith in the court system. He failed in his specific duties as both a moral agent and as a legal agent; in doing so, his intent was clearly wrong. Mosteller, contends that “Brady is not felt as a moral command, unless something stunning is observed. It is rather part of the requirements of the job” (ibid), and yet Nifong violated the “Brady doctrine 'to play hide and go seek with evidence' .” (Spencer, 2007, para. 16)