David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 166 (2):431 - 447 (2009)
I argue that evolutionary strategies of kin selection and game-theoretic reciprocity are apt to generate agent-centered and agent- neutral moral intuitions, respectively. Such intuitions are the building blocks of moral theories, resulting in a fundamental schism between agent-centered theories on the one hand and agent-neutral theories on the other. An agent-neutral moral theory is one according to which everyone has the same duties and moral aims, no matter what their personal interests or interpersonal relationships. Agent-centered moral theories deny this and include at least some prescriptions that include ineliminable indexicals. I argue that there are no rational means of bridging the gap between the two types of theories; nevertheless this does not necessitate skepticism about the moral—we might instead opt for an ethical relativism in which the truth of moral statements is relativized to the perspective of moral theories on either side of the schism. Such a relativism does not mean that any ethical theory is as good as any other; some cannot be held in reflective equilibrium, and even among those that can, there may well be pragmatic reasons that motivate the selection of one theory over another. But if no sort of relativism is deemed acceptable, then it is hard to avoid moral skepticism.
|Keywords||moral relativism evolutionary psychology agent neutral agent relative kin selection reciprocity|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Elliott Sober & David Sloan Wilson (1998). Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior. Harvard University Press.
Steven Pinker (1995). The Language Instinct. Harper Perennial.
Citations of this work BETA
Steven D. Hales (2012). The Faculty of Intuition. Analytic Philosophy 53 (2):180-207.
Similar books and articles
Charles Sayward (1988). System Relativism. Ratio 1 (2):163-175.
Douglas W. Portmore (2001). Can an Act-Consequentialist Theory Be Agent Relative? American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (4):363-77.
Miranda Fricker (2010). The Relativism of Blame and Williams's Relativism of Distance. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 84 (1):151-177.
Christian Miller (2011). Moral Relativism and Moral Psychology. In Steven Hales (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Relativism. Blackwell
Michael Smith (2011). Deontological Moral Obligations and Non-Welfarist Agent-Relative Values. Ratio 24 (4):351-363.
Steven Hales (1996). More on Fathers' Rights. In Robert Almeder & James Humber (eds.), Biomedical Ethics Reviews: Reproduction, Technology, and Rights. 25-34.
Daan Evers (2009). Humean Agent-Neutral Reasons? Philosophical Explorations 12 (1):55 – 67.
Katinka Quintelier & Daniel Fessler (2012). Varying Versions of Moral Relativism: The Philosophy and Psychology of Normative Relativism. Biology and Philosophy 27 (1):95-113.
John J. Tilley (2004). Justifying Reasons, Motivating Reasons, and Agent Relativism in Ethics. Philosophical Studies 118 (3):373-399.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads137 ( #26,988 of 1,796,218 )
Recent downloads (6 months)20 ( #36,474 of 1,796,218 )
How can I increase my downloads?