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  1. Calling for Explanation.Dan Baras - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
    The assumption that certain facts can’t be mere coincidences—that they call for explanation—underlies influential debates in metaethics, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of science. Despite its prevalence and importance as a fundamental assumption in so many debates across fields of study, the premise is rarely questioned, and the distinction between facts that call for explanation and those that do not has thus far received little careful attention. My book aims to fill this gap by both mapping out clearly the (...)
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  2. Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Diego E. Machuca (ed.) - forthcoming - Routledge.
  3. The Limits of Rational Belief Revision: A Dilemma for the Darwinian Debunker.Katia Vavova - forthcoming - Noûs.
    We are fallible creatures, prone to making all sorts of mistakes. So, we should be open to evidence of error. But what constitutes such evidence? And what is it to rationally accommodate it? I approach these questions by considering an evolutionary debunking argument according to which (a) we have good, scientific, reason to think our moral beliefs are mistaken, and (b) rationally accommodating this requires revising our confidence in, or altogether abandoning the suspect beliefs. I present a dilemma for such (...)
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  4. Han Feizi’s Genealogical Arguments.Lee Wilson - forthcoming - In Eirik Lang Harris & Henrique Schneider (eds.), Adventures in Chinese Realism: Classic Philosophy Applied to Contemporary Issues. Albany, NY, USA: SUNY Press.
    Han Feizi’s criticisms of Confucian and Mohist political recommendations are often thought to involve materialist or historicist arguments, independently of their epistemological features. Drawing largely on Amia Srinivasan’s recent taxonomy of genealogical arguments, this paper proposes a genealogical reading of passages in “The Five Vermin [五蠹 wudu]” and “Eminence in Learning [顯學 xianxue].” This reveals Han Feizi’s arguments to be more comprehensively appreciated as problematizing Confucian and Mohist political judgments as arising from undermining contingencies, rendering them irrelevant, if not detrimental, (...)
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  5. A Bayesian Analysis of Debunking Arguments in Ethics.Shang Long Yeo - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-20.
    Debunking arguments in ethics contend that our moral beliefs have dubious evolutionary, cultural, or psychological origins – hence concluding that we should doubt such beliefs. Debates about debunking are often couched in coarse-grained terms – about whether our moral beliefs are justified or not, for instance. In this paper, I propose a more detailed Bayesian analysis of debunking arguments, which proceeds in the fine-grained framework of rational confidence. Such analysis promises several payoffs: it highlights how debunking arguments don’t affect all (...)
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  6. The Contingency of the Cultural Evolution of Morality, Debunking, and Theism Vs. Naturalism.Matthew Braddock - 2021 - In Johan De Smedt & Helen De Cruz (eds.), Empirically Engaged Evolutionary Ethics. pp. 179-201.
    Is the cultural evolution of morality fairly contingent? Could cultural evolution have easily led humans to moral norms and judgments that are mostly false by our present lights? If so, does it matter philosophically? Yes, or so we argue. We empirically motivate the contingency of cultural evolution and show that it makes two major philosophical contributions. First, it shows that moral objectivists cannot explain the reliability of our moral judgments and thus strengthens moral debunking arguments. Second, it shows that the (...)
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  7. The Epistemology of Evolutionary Debunking.Justis Koon - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12155-12176.
    Fifteen years ago, Sharon Street and Richard Joyce advanced evolutionary debunking arguments against moral realism, which purported to show that the evolutionary history of our moral beliefs makes moral realism untenable. These arguments have since given rise to a flurry of objections; the epistemic principles Street and Joyce relied upon, in particular, have come in for a number of serious challenges. My goal in this paper is to develop a new account of evolutionary debunking which avoids the pitfalls Street and (...)
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  8. Theistic Moral Realism, Evolutionary Debunking Arguments, and a Catholic Philosophy of Nature.Michael Rauschenbach - 2021 - 2019 Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments, whether defended by Street (2006), Joyce (2006), or others against moral realism, or by Plantinga (1993, 2011) and others against atheism, seek to determine the implications of the still-dominant worldview of naturalism. Examining them is thus a critical component of any defense of a theistic philosophy of nature. Recently, several authors have explored the connection between evolutionary debunking arguments against moral realism (hence: EDAs) and Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalistic atheism (hence: EAAN). Typically, responses in this vein (...)
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  9. Realism, Reliability, and Epistemic Possibility: On Modally Interpreting the Benacerraf–Field Challenge.Brett Topey - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):4415-4436.
    A Benacerraf–Field challenge is an argument intended to show that common realist theories of a given domain are untenable: such theories make it impossible to explain how we’ve arrived at the truth in that domain, and insofar as a theory makes our reliability in a domain inexplicable, we must either reject that theory or give up the relevant beliefs. But there’s no consensus about what would count here as a satisfactory explanation of our reliability. It’s sometimes suggested that giving such (...)
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  10. What Should We Agree on About the Repugnant Conclusion?Stephane Zuber, Nikhil Venkatesh, Torbjörn Tännsjö, Christian Tarsney, H. Orri Stefánsson, Katie Steele, Dean Spears, Jeff Sebo, Marcus Pivato, Toby Ord, Yew-Kwang Ng, Michal Masny, William MacAskill, Nicholas Lawson, Kevin Kuruc, Michelle Hutchinson, Johan E. Gustafsson, Hilary Greaves, Lisa Forsberg, Marc Fleurbaey, Diane Coffey, Susumu Cato, Clinton Castro, Tim Campbell, Mark Budolfson, John Broome, Alexander Berger, Nick Beckstead & Geir B. Asheim - 2021 - Utilitas 33 (4):379-383.
    The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
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  11. How Can Necessary Facts Call for Explanation?Dan Baras - 2020 - Synthese 198 (12):11607-11624.
    While there has been much discussion about what makes some mathematical proofs more explanatory than others, and what are mathematical coincidences, in this article I explore the distinct phenomenon of mathematical facts that call for explanation. The existence of mathematical facts that call for explanation stands in tension with virtually all existing accounts of “calling for explanation”, which imply that necessary facts cannot call for explanation. In this paper I explore what theoretical revisions are needed in order to accommodate this (...)
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  12. No need to get up from the armchair.Dan Baras - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3):575-590.
    Several authors believe that metaethicists ought to leave their comfortable armchairs and engage with serious empirical research. This paper provides partial support for the opposing view, that metaethics is rightly conducted from the armchair. It does so by focusing on debunking arguments against robust moral realism. Specifically, the article discusses arguments based on the possibility that if robust realism is correct, then our beliefs are most likely insensitive to the relevant truths. These arguments seem at first glance to be dependent (...)
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  13. Big History, Value, and the Art of Continued Existence.Brendan Cline - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (3):901-930.
    There has lately been substantial interest in scrutinizing our evaluative attitudes in light of our evolutionary history. However, these discussions have been hampered by an insufficiently expansive vantage. Our history did not begin ex nihilo a few million years ago with the appearance of hominins, or apes, or primates—those are very recent chapters of a much larger story that spans billions of years. This paper situates the mechanisms underlying normative thought within this broader context. I argue that this historical perspective (...)
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  14. Are moral norms rooted in instincts? The sibling incest taboo as a case study.Nathan Cofnas - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (5):47.
    According to Westermarck’s widely accepted explanation of the incest taboo, cultural prohibitions on sibling sex are rooted in an evolved biological disposition to feel sexual aversion toward our childhood coresidents. Bernard Williams posed the “representation problem” for Westermarck’s theory: the content of the hypothesized instinct is different from the content of the incest taboo —thus the former cannot be causally responsible for the latter. Arthur Wolf posed the related “moralization problem”: the instinct concerns personal behavior whereas the prohibition concerns everyone. (...)
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  15. Charting Moral Psychology’s Significance for Bioethics: Routes to Bioethical Progress, its Limits, and Lessons From Moral Philosophy.Michael Klenk - 2020 - Diametros 17 (64):36-55.
    Empirical moral psychology is sometimes dismissed as normatively insignificant because it plays no decisive role in settling ethical disputes. But that conclusion, even if it is valid for normative ethics, does not extend to bioethics. First, in contrast to normative ethics, bioethics can legitimately proceed from a presupposed moral framework. Within that framework, moral psychology can be shown to play four significant roles: it can improve bioethicists’ understanding of the decision situation, the origin and legitimacy of their moral concepts, efficient (...)
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  16. Evolutionary Debunking and Moral Relativism.Daniel Z. Korman & Dustin Locke - 2020 - In Martin Kusch (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Relativism. New York: Routledge. pp. 190-199.
    Our aim here is to explore the prospects of a relativist response to moral debunking arguments. We begin by clarifying the relativist thesis under consideration, and we explain why relativists seem well-positioned to resist the arguments in a way that avoids the drawbacks of existing responses. We then show that appearances are deceiving. At bottom, the relativist response is no less question-begging than standard realist responses, and – when we turn our attention to the strongest formulation of the debunking argument (...)
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  17. Contingency Inattention: Against Causal Debunking in Ethics.Regina Rini - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (2):369-389.
    It is a philosophical truism that we must think of others as moral agents, not merely as causal or statistical objects. But why? I argue that this follows from the best resolution of an antinomy between our experience of morality as necessarily binding on the will and our knowledge that all moral beliefs originate in contingent histories. We can address this antinomy only by understanding moral deliberation via interpersonal relationships, which simultaneously vindicate and constrains morality’s bind on the will. This (...)
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  18. Evolutionary Debunking, Self-Defeat, and All the Evidence.Silvan Wittwer - 2020 - In Michael Klenk (ed.), Higher Order Evidence and Moral Epistemology. New York, NY, USA: Routledge.
    Recently, Tomas Bogardus (2016), Andreas Mogensen (2017) and – at least on one plausible reconstruction – Sharon Street (2005) have argued that evolutionary theory debunks our moral beliefs by providing higher-order evidence of error. In response, moral realists such as Katia Vavova (2014) have objected that such evolutionary debunking arguments are self-defeating. The literature lacks any discussion of whether this self-defeat objection can be handled. My overall aim is to argue that it cannot, thus filling that lacuna – and vindicating (...)
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  19. Moral Error Theory, Explanatory Dispensability and the Limits of Guilt.Silvan Wittwer - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (10):2969-2983.
    Recently, companions in guilt strategies have garnered significant philosophical attention as a response to arguments for moral error theory, the view that there are no moral facts and that our moral beliefs are thus systematically mistaken. According to Cuneo (The normative web: an argument for moral realism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007), Das (Philos Q 66:152–160, 2016; Australas J Philos 95(1):58–69, 2017), Rowland (J Ethics Soc Philos 7(1):1–24, 2012; Philos Q 66:161–171, 2016) and others, epistemic facts would be just as (...)
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  20. Defusing the Regress Challenge to Debunking Arguments.Shang Long Yeo - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (6):785-800.
    A debunking argument contends that some target moral judgments were produced by unreliable processes and concludes that such judgments are unjustified. Debunking arguments face a regress challenge: to show that a process is unreliable at tracking the moral truth, we need to rely on other moral judgments. But we must show that these relied-upon judgments are also reliable, which requires yet a further set of judgments, whose reliability needs to be confirmed too, and so on. Some argue that the debunker (...)
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  21. Sidgwick's Dualism of Practical Reason, Evolutionary Debunking, and Moral Psychology.Peter Andes - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (4):361-377.
    Sidgwick's seminal textThe Methods of Ethicsleft off with an unresolved problem that Sidgwick referred to as the dualism of practical reason. The problem is that employing Sidgwick's methodology of rational intuitionism appears to show that there are reasons to favour both egoism and utilitarianism. Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer offer a solution in the form of an evolutionary debunking argument: the appeal of egoism is explainable in terms of evolutionary theory. I argue that like rational prudence, rational benevolence is (...)
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  22. Analyzing Debunking Arguments in Moral Psychology: Beyond the Counterfactual Analysis of Influence by Irrelevant Factors.Joanna Demaree-Cotton - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42 (e151):15-17.
    May assumes that if moral beliefs are counterfactually dependent on irrelevant factors, then those moral beliefs are based on defective belief-forming processes. This assumption is false. Whether influence by irrelevant factors is debunking depends on the mechanisms through which this influence occurs. This raises the empirical bar for debunkers and helps May avoid an objection to his Debunker’s Dilemma.
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  23. Constructivism, Intersubjectivity, Provability, and Triviality.Andrea Guardo - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (4):515-527.
    Sharon Street defines her constructivism about practical reasons as the view that whether something is a reason to do a certain thing for a given agent depends on that agent’s normative point of view. However, Street has also maintained that there is a judgment about practical reasons which is true relative to every possible normative point of view, namely constructivism itself. I show that the latter thesis is inconsistent with Street’s own constructivism about epistemic reasons and discuss some consequences of (...)
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  24. Evolutionary Ethics.Michael Klenk - 2019 - Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics.
    This chapter first introduces naturalistic approaches to ethics more generally and distinguishes methodological ethical naturalism (the focus of this chapter), from metaphysical ethical naturalism. The second part then discusses evolutionary ethics as a specific variant of methodological ethical naturalism. After introducing the concepts of evolutionary theory that are relevant for evolutionary ethics, I will sketch the history of evolutionary ethics, which offers an interesting lesson about why it became a controversial topic, and then focus on four central questions about ethics (...)
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  25. Debunking Arguments.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (12).
    Debunking arguments—also known as etiological arguments, genealogical arguments, access problems, isolation objec- tions, and reliability challenges—arise in philosophical debates about a diverse range of topics, including causation, chance, color, consciousness, epistemic reasons, free will, grounding, laws of nature, logic, mathematics, modality, morality, natural kinds, ordinary objects, religion, and time. What unifies the arguments is the transition from a premise about what does or doesn't explain why we have certain mental states to a negative assessment of their epistemic status. I examine (...)
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  26. Debunking Arguments in Metaethics and Metaphysics.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - In Alvin Goldman & Brian McLaughlin (eds.), Metaphysics and Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 337-363.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments abound, but it is widely assumed that they do not arise for our perceptual beliefs about midsized objects, insofar as the adaptive value of our object beliefs cannot be explained without reference to the objects themselves. I argue that this is a mistake. Just as with moral beliefs, the adaptive value of our object beliefs can be explained without assuming that the beliefs are accurate. I then explore the prospects for other sorts of vindications of our object (...)
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  27. How to Debunk Moral Beliefs.Victor Kumar & Joshua May - 2019 - In Jussi Suikkanen & Antti Kauppinen (eds.), Methodology and Moral Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 25-48.
    Arguments attempting to debunk moral beliefs, by showing they are unjustified, have tended to be global, targeting all moral beliefs or a large set of them. Popular debunking arguments point to various factors purportedly influencing moral beliefs, from evolutionary pressures, to automatic and emotionally-driven processes, to framing effects. We show that these sweeping arguments face a debunker’s dilemma: either the relevant factor is not a main basis for belief or it does not render the relevant beliefs unjustified. Empirical debunking arguments (...)
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  28. Nietzsche as a Critic of Genealogical Debunking: Making Room for Naturalism Without Subversion.Matthieu Queloz & Damian Cueni - 2019 - The Monist 102 (3):277-297.
    This paper argues that Nietzsche is a critic of just the kind of genealogical debunking he is popularly associated with. We begin by showing that interpretations of Nietzsche which see him as engaging in genealogical debunking turn him into an advocate of nihilism, for on his own premises, any truthful genealogical inquiry into our values is going to uncover what most of his contemporaries deem objectionable origins and thus license global genealogical debunking. To escape nihilism and make room for naturalism (...)
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  29. La supresión transitoria de los peores demonios de nuestra naturaleza-una revisión de ' Los Mejores Angeles de Nuestro Naturaleza: por qué la violencia ha disminuido ' (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined’ (2012)(revisión revisada 2019).Michael Richard Starks - 2019 - In Delirios Utópicos Suicidas en el Siglo 21 La filosofía, la naturaleza humana y el colapso de la civilización Artículos y reseñas 2006-2019 4a Edición. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 339-343.
    Este no es un libro perfecto, pero es único, y si usted hojean las primeras 400 o así páginas, el último 300 (de unos 700) son un buen intento de aplicar lo que se sabe sobre el comportamiento a los cambios sociales en la violencia y las costumbres con el tiempo. El tema básico es: ¿Cómo controla y limita el cambio social nuestra genética? Sorprendentemente, no puede describir la naturaleza de la selección de parientes (aptitud inclusiva) que explica gran parte (...)
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  30. Evolutionary Hypotheses and Moral Skepticism.Jessica Isserow - 2018 - Erkenntnis 84 (5):1025-1045.
    Proponents of evolutionary debunking arguments aim to show that certain genealogical explanations of our moral faculties, if true, undermine our claim to moral knowledge. Criticisms of these arguments generally take the debunker’s genealogical explanation for granted. The task of the anti-debunker is thought to be that of reconciling the truth of this hypothesis with moral knowledge. In this paper, I shift the critical focus instead to the debunker’s empirical hypothesis and argue that the skeptical strength of an evolutionary debunking argument (...)
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  31. Evolution and the Possibility of Moral Knowledge.Silvan Wittwer - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Edinburgh
    This PhD thesis provides an extended evaluation of evolutionary debunking arguments in meta-ethics. Such arguments attempt to show that evolutionary theory, together with a commitment to robust moral objectivity, lead to moral scepticism: the implausible view that we lack moral knowledge or that our moral beliefs are never justified. To establish that, these arguments rely on certain epistemic principles. But most of the epistemic principles appealed to in the literature on evolutionary debunking arguments are imprecise, confused or simply implausible. My (...)
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  32. Debunking Arguments From Insensitivity.Matthew Braddock - 2017 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 7 (2):91-113.
    Heightened awareness of the origins of our moral judgments pushes many in the direction of moral skepticism, in the direction of thinking we are unjustified in holding our moral judgments on a realist understanding of the moral truths. A classic debunking argument fleshes out this worry: the best explanation of our moral judgments does not appeal to their truth, so we are unjustified in holding our moral judgments. But it is unclear how to get from the explanatory premise to the (...)
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  33. Moral Cheesecake, Evolved Psychology, and the Debunking Impulse.Daniel Kelly - 2017 - In Richard Joyce (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy. New York, NY, USA: pp. 342-358.
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  34. Evolutionary Debunking Arguments, Explanatory Structure, and Anti-Realism.Karl Schafer - 2017 - In Karsten Stueber & Remy Debes (eds.), Ethical Sentimentalism: New Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 66-85.
    In this essay, I distinguish two different epistemological strategies an anti-realist might pursue in developing an "evolutionary debunking" of moral realism. Then I argue that a moral realist can resist both of these strategies by calling into question the epistemological presuppositions on which they rest. Nonetheless, I conclude that these arguments point to a legitimate source of dissatisfaction about many forms of moral realism. I conclude by discussing the way forward that these conclusions indicate.
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  35. Evolutionary Debunking: Can Moral Realists Explain the Reliability of Our Moral Judgments?Matthew Braddock - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (6):844-857.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments, notably Sharon Street’s Darwinian Dilemma (2006), allege that moral realists need to explain the reliability of our moral judgments, given their evolutionary sources. David Copp (2008) and David Enoch (2010) take up the challenge. I argue on empirical grounds that realists have not met the challenge and moreover cannot do so. The outcome is that there are empirically-motivated reasons for thinking moral realists cannot explain moral reliability, given our current empirical understanding.
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