David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 12 (3):385-397 (1997)
Michael Ruses Darwinian metaethics has come under just criticism from Peter Woolcock (1993). But with modification it remains defensible. Ruse (1986) holds that people ordinarily have a false belief that there are objective moral obligations. He argues that the evolutionary story should be taken as an error theory, i.e., as a theory which explains the belief that there are obligations as arising from non-rational causes, rather than from inference or evidential reasons. Woolcock quite rightly objects that this position entails moral nihilism. However, I argue here that people generally have justified true beliefs about which acts promote their most coherent set of moral values, and hence, by definition, about which acts are right. What the evolutionary story explains is the existence of these values, but it is not an error theory for moral beliefs. Ordinary beliefs correspond to real moral properties, though these are not objective or absolute properties independent of anyones subjective states. On its best footing, therefore, a Darwinian metaethics of the type Ruse offers is not an error theory and does not entail moral nihilism.
|Keywords||morality evolution error theory|
|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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Charles R. Pigden (2007). Nihilism, Nietzsche and the Doppelganger Problem. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):441 - 456.
Michael Stingl & John Collier (2004). After the Fall: Religious Capacities and the Error Theory of Morality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (6):751-752.
Richard Joyce (2011). The Error In 'The Error In The Error Theory'. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):519-534.
Fritz Allhoff (2009). The Evolution of the Moral Sentiments and the Metaphysics of Morals. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (1):97 - 114.
Bart Streumer (2013). Can We Believe the Error Theory? Journal of Philosophy 110 (4):194-212.
Peter G. Woolcock (2000). Objectivity and Illusion in Evolutionary Ethics: Comments on Waller. Biology and Philosophy 15 (1):39-60.
Stephen Finlay (2008). The Error in the Error Theory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (3):347-369.
Peter Woolcock (1993). Ruse's Darwinian Meta-Ethics: A Critique. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 8 (4):423-439.
Toby Svoboda (2011). Hybridizing Moral Expressivism and Moral Error Theory. Journal of Value Inquiry 45 (1):37-48.
Bruce N. Waller (1996). Moral Commitment Without Objectivity or Illusion: Comments on Ruse and Woolcock. Biology and Philosophy 11 (2):245-254.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads39 ( #91,909 of 1,780,099 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #204,589 of 1,780,099 )
How can I increase my downloads?