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Evolutionary Debunking Arguments

Noûs 45 (1):103-125 (2011)

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  1. Famine, Affluence and Intuitions: Evolutionary Debunking Proves Too Much.Geoffrey S. Holtzman - 2018 - Disputatio 10 (48):57-70.
    Moral theorists like Singer and Greene argue that we should discount intuitions about ‘up-close-and-personal’ moral dilemmas because they are more likely than intuitions about ‘impersonal’ dilemmas to be artifacts of evolution. But by that reasoning, it seems we should ignore the evolved, ‘up-close-and-personal’ intuition to save a drowning child in light of the too-new-to-be-evolved, ‘impersonal’ intuition that we need not donate to international famine relief. This conclusion seems mistaken and horrifying, yet it cannot be the case both that ‘up-close-and-personal’ intuitions (...)
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  • Rawls’ Methodological Blueprint.Jonathan Floyd - 2017 - European Journal of Political Theory 16 (3):367-381.
    Rawls’ primary legacy is not that he standardised a particular view of justice, but rather that he standardised a particular method of arguing about it: justification via reflective equilibrium. Yet this method, despite such standardisation, is often misunderstood in at least four ways. First, we miss its continuity across his various works. Second, we miss the way in which it unifies other justificatory ideas, such as the ‘original position’ and an ‘overlapping consensus’. Third, we miss its fundamentally empirical character, given (...)
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  • A Case for Ethical Veganism.Tristram McPherson - 2014 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (6):677-703.
    This paper argues for ethical veganism: the thesis that it is typically wrong to consume animal products. The paper first sets out an intuitive case for this thesis that begins with the intuitive claim that it is wrong to set fire to a cat. I then raise a methodological challenge: this is an intuitive argument for a revisionary conclusion. Even if we grant that we cannot both believe that it is permissible to drink milk, and that it is wrong to (...)
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  • “Theism, Naturalism, and Meta‐Ethics”.Matthew C. Jordan - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (4):373-380.
    The relationship between God and morality has been a topic of philosophical discussion since Socrates engaged Euthyphro in the agora. In recent years, it has received a lot of attention, as theistic philosophers have attempted to show that divine command theory and other theistic meta‐ethical accounts are defensible. Whether metaphysical naturalism is compatible with moral realism is a related topic. This essay surveys the main issues in these debates.
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  • Old Wine in New Bottles.Michael Klenk - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (4):781-795.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments purport to show that robust moral realism, the metaethical view that there are non-natural and mind-independent moral properties and facts that we can know about, is incompatible with evolutionary explanations of morality. One of the most prominent evolutionary debunking arguments is advanced by Sharon Street, who argues that if moral realism were true, then objective moral knowledge is unlikely because realist moral properties are evolutionary irrelevant and moral beliefs about those properties would not be selected for. However, (...)
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  • Objectivity.Ross Colebrook & Hagop Sarkissian - 2018 - In Todd K. Shackelford & Vivian A. Weekes-Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science.
    In this entry, we outline the ways in which evolutionary theory has implications for the objectivity of morality.
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  • Do Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Rest on a Mistake About Evolutionary Explanations?Andreas L. Mogensen - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (7):1799-1817.
    Many moral philosophers accept the Debunking Thesis, according to which facts about natural selection provide debunking explanations for certain of our moral beliefs. I argue that philosophers who accept the Debunking Thesis beg important questions in the philosophy of biology. They assume that past selection can explain why you or I hold certain of the moral beliefs we do. A position advanced by many prominent philosophers of biology implies that this assumption is false. According to the Negative View, natural selection (...)
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  • Debunking Debunking: A Regress Challenge for Psychological Threats to Moral Judgment.Regina A. Rini - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (3):675-697.
    This paper presents a regress challenge to the selective psychological debunking of moral judgments. A selective psychological debunking argument conjoins an empirical claim about the psychological origins of certain moral judgments to a theoretical claim that these psychological origins cannot track moral truth, leading to the conclusion that the moral judgments are unreliable. I argue that psychological debunking arguments are vulnerable to a regress challenge, because the theoretical claim that ‘such-and-such psychological process is not moral-truth-tracking’ relies upon moral judgments. We (...)
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  • Debunking Rationalist Defenses of Common-Sense Ontology: An Empirical Approach.Robert Carry Osborne - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (1):197-221.
    Debunking arguments typically attempt to show that a set of beliefs or other intensional mental states bear no appropriate explanatory connection to the facts they purport to be about. That is, a debunking argument will attempt to show that beliefs about p are not held because of the facts about p. Such beliefs, if true, would then only be accidentally so. Thus, their causal origins constitute an undermining defeater. Debunking arguments arise in various philosophical domains, targeting beliefs about morality, the (...)
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  • When Will a Consequentialist Push You in Front of a Trolley?Scott Woodcock - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (2):299-316.
    As the trolley problem runs its course, consequentialists tend to adopt one of two strategies: silently take comfort in the fact that deontological rivals face their own enduring difficulties, or appeal to cognitive psychology to discredit the deontological intuitions on which the trolley problem depends. I refer to the first strategy as silent schadenfreude and the second as debunking attack. My aim in this paper is to argue that consequentialists ought to reject both strategies and instead opt for what I (...)
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  • Evolved Cognitive Biases and the Epistemic Status of Scientific Beliefs.Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 157 (3):411 - 429.
    Our ability for scientific reasoning is a byproduct of cognitive faculties that evolved in response to problems related to survival and reproduction. Does this observation increase the epistemic standing of science, or should we treat scientific knowledge with suspicion? The conclusions one draws from applying evolutionary theory to scientific beliefs depend to an important extent on the validity of evolutionary arguments (EAs) or evolutionary debunking arguments (EDAs). In this paper we show through an analytical model that cultural transmission of scientific (...)
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  • Evolution and Utilitarianism.François Jaquet - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (5):1151-1161.
    Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer have recently provided an evolutionary argument for utilitarianism. They argue that most of our deontological beliefs were shaped by evolution, from which they conclude that these beliefs are unjustified. By contrast, they maintain that the utilitarian belief that everyone’s well-being matters equally is immune to such debunking arguments because it wasn’t similarly influenced. However, Guy Kahane remarks that this belief lacks substantial content unless it is paired with an account of well-being, and he adds (...)
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  • Ethics and Evolutionary Theory.Erik J. Wielenberg - 2016 - Analysis 76 (4):502-515.
  • Moral Psychology and the Unity of Morality.James G. Quigley - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (2):119-146.
    Jonathan Haidt's research on moral cognition has revealed that political liberals moralize mostly in terms of Harm and Fairness, whereas conservatives moralize in terms of those plus loyalty to Ingroup, respect for Authority, and Purity. Some have concluded that the norms of morality encompass a wide variety of subject matters with no deep unity. To the contrary, I argue that the conservative position is partially debunked by its own lights. IAP norms’ moral relevance depends on their tendency to promote welfare. (...)
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  • Debunking and Disagreement.Folke Tersman - 2017 - Noûs 51 (4):754-774.
    The fact that debunkers can turn to the argument from disagreement for help is ofcourse not a surprise. After all, both types of challenge basically pursue the same,skeptical conclusion. What I have tried to show, however, is that they are related in amore intimate way.
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  • Explaining the Reliability of Moral Beliefs.Tersman Folke - unknown
    This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the forthcoming book "Ethics and Explanation", edited by Neil Sinclair and Uri Leibowitz due for publication in 2016.
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  • Truth in an Evolutionary Perspective.Carlos Blanco - 2014 - Scientia et Fides 2 (1):203-220.
    The perspective drawn from evolutionary science, undoubtedly one of the most remarkable intellectual achievements in our conception of the world, poses a deep challenge to epistemology and the meaning of truth. The present paper aims to examine the difficulties offered by the prevailing biological model for the emergence and development of mind in its attempt at constructing a possible philosophical theory of truth. We propose a solution which, while preserving the priority of the distinction between truth and falsehood, is nonetheless (...)
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  • Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.Joshua May - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    The burgeoning science of ethics has produced a trend toward pessimism. Ordinary moral thought and action, we’re told, are profoundly influenced by arbitrary factors and ultimately driven by unreasoned feelings. This book counters the current orthodoxy on its own terms by carefully engaging with the empirical literature. The resulting view, optimistic rationalism, shows the pervasive role played by reason, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don’t come easily. However, despite (...)
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  • Self-Ownership and Disgust: Why Compulsory Body Part Redistribution Gets Under Our Skin.Christopher Freiman & Adam Lerner - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (12):3167-3190.
    The self-ownership thesis asserts, roughly, that agents own their minds and bodies in the same way that they can own extra-personal property. One common strategy for defending the self-ownership thesis is to show that it accords with our intuitions about the wrongness of various acts involving the expropriation of body parts. We challenge this line of defense. We argue that disgust explains our resistance to these sorts of cases and present results from an original psychological experiment in support of this (...)
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  • The Epistemology of Moral Disagreement.Richard Rowland - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (2):1-16.
    This article is about the implications of a conciliatory view about the epistemology of peer disagreement for our moral beliefs. Many have endorsed a conciliatory view about the epistemology of peer disagreement according to which if we find ourselves in a disagreement about some matter with another whom we should judge to be our epistemic peer on that matter, we must revise our judgment about that matter. This article focuses on three issues about the implications of conciliationism for our moral (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and the Moral Niche.Eleonora Severini - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (3):865-875.
    The so-called Evolutionary Debunking Arguments are arguments that appeal to the evolutionary genealogy of our beliefs to undermine their justification. When applied to morality, such arguments are intended to undermine moral realism. In this paper I will discuss Andreas Mogensen’s recent effort to secure moral realism against EDAs. Mogensen attempts to undermine the challenge provided by EDAs in metaethics through the distinction between proximate and ultimate causes in biology. The problem with this move is that the proximate/ultimate distinction is misconceived. (...)
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  • A Natural History of Natural Theology: The Cognitive Science of Theology and Philosophy of Religion. [REVIEW]Wes Skolits - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (6):849-853.
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  • Debunking Evolutionary Debunking of Ethical Realism.William J. FitzPatrick - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):883-904.
    What implications, if any, does evolutionary biology have for metaethics? Many believe that our evolutionary background supports a deflationary metaethics, providing a basis at least for debunking ethical realism. Some arguments for this conclusion appeal to claims about the etiology of the mental capacities we employ in ethical judgment, while others appeal to the etiology of the content of our moral beliefs. In both cases the debunkers’ claim is that the causal roles played by evolutionary factors raise deep epistemic problems (...)
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  • The Moral Fixed Points: New Directions for Moral Nonnaturalism.Terence Cuneo & Russ Shafer-Landau - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 171 (3):399-443.
    Our project in this essay is to showcase nonnaturalistic moral realism’s resources for responding to metaphysical and epistemological objections by taking the view in some new directions. The central thesis we will argue for is that there is a battery of substantive moral propositions that are also nonnaturalistic conceptual truths. We call these propositions the moral fixed points. We will argue that they must find a place in any system of moral norms that applies to beings like us, in worlds (...)
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  • But for the Grace of God: Abortion and Cognitive Disability, Luck and Moral Status.Jonathan Surovell - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (2):257-277.
    Many theories of moral status that are intended to ground pro-choice views on abortion tie full moral status to advanced cognitive capabilities. Extant accounts of this kind are inconsistent with the intuition that the profoundly cognitively disabled have full moral status. This paper improves upon these extant accounts by combining an anti-luck condition with Steinbock’s stratification of moral status into two levels. On the resulting view, a being has full moral status if and only if she has moral status and (...)
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  • Persistence Through Function Preservation.David Rose - 2015 - Synthese 192 (1):97-146.
    When do the folk think that material objects persist? Many metaphysicians have wanted a view which fits with folk intuitions, yet there is little agreement about what the folk intuit. I provide a range of empirical evidence which suggests that the folk operate with a teleological view of persistence: the folk tend to intuit that a material object survives alterations when its function is preserved. Given that the folk operate with a teleological view of persistence, I argue for a debunking (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and the Reliability of Moral Cognition.Benjamin James Fraser - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (2):457-473.
    Recent debate in metaethics over evolutionary debunking arguments against morality has shown a tendency to abstract away from relevant empirical detail. Here, I engage the debate about Darwinian debunking of morality with relevant empirical issues. I present four conditions that must be met in order for it to be reasonable to expect an evolved cognitive faculty to be reliable: the environment, information, error, and tracking conditions. I then argue that these conditions are not met in the case of our evolved (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Against Theism, Reconsidered.Jonathan Jong & Aku Visala - 2014 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 76 (3):243-258.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments against religious beliefs move from the claim that religious beliefs are caused by off-track processes to the conclusion that said religious beliefs are unjustified and/or false. Prima facie, EDAs commit the genetic fallacy, unduly conflating the context of discovery and the context of justification. In this paper, we first consider whether EDAs necessarily commit the genetic fallacy, and if not, whether modified EDAs provide successful arguments against theism. Then, we critically evaluate more recent attempts to argue that (...)
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  • Nativism and the Evolutionary Debunking of Morality.Brendan Cline - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (2):231-253.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments purport to undercut the justification of our moral judgments by showing why a tendency to make moral judgments would evolve regardless of the truth of those judgments. Machery and Mallon (2010. Evolution of morality. In J.M. Doris and The Moral Psychology Research Group (Eds.), The Moral Psychology Handbook (pp. 3-46). Oxford: Oxford University Press) have recently tried to disarm these arguments by showing that moral cognition – in the sense that is relevant to debunking – is not (...)
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  • The Tale of a Moderate Normative Skeptic.Brendan Cline - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (1):141-161.
    While Richard Joyce’s moral skepticism might seem to be an extreme metaethical view, it is actually far more moderate than it might first appear. By articulating four challenges facing his approach to moral skepticism, I argue that Joyce’s moderation is, in fact, a theoretical liability. First, the fact that Joyce is not skeptical about normativity in general makes it possible to develop close approximations to morality, lending support to moderate moral revisionism over moral error theory. Second, Joyce relies on strong, (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking of Morality: Epistemological or Metaphysical?Ramon Das - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (2):417-435.
    It is widely supposed that evolutionary debunking arguments against morality constitute a type of epistemological objection to our moral beliefs. In particular, the debunking force of such arguments is not supposed to depend on the metaphysical claim that moral facts do not exist. In this paper I argue that this standard epistemological construal of EDAs is highly misleading, if not mistaken. Specifically, I argue that the most widely discussed EDAs all make key and controversial metaphysical claims about the nature of (...)
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  • Plantinga Redux: Is the Scientific Realist Committed to the Rejection of Naturalism?Abraham Graber & Luke Golemon - forthcoming - Sophia:1-18.
    While Plantinga has famously argued that acceptance of neo-Darwinian theory commits one to the rejection of naturalism, Plantinga’s argument is vulnerable to an objection developed by Evan Fales. Not only does Fales’ objection undermine Plantinga’s original argument, it establishes a general challenge which any attempt to revitalize Plantinga’s argument must overcome. After briefly laying out the contours of this challenge, we attempt to meet it by arguing that because a purely naturalistic account of our etiology cannot explain the correlation between (...)
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  • Neuroscience and Moral Reliability.Tommaso Bruni - 2011 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 2 (2):15-17.
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  • Objective Morality After Darwin ?Olli-Pekka Vainio - 2015 - Heythrop Journal 56 (4):584-592.
  • Luck: Evolutionary and Epistemic.Billy Dunaway - 2017 - Episteme 14 (4):441-461.
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  • Cognitive Science of Religion and Folk Theistic Belief.Daniel Lim - 2016 - Zygon 51 (4):949-965.
    Cognitive scientists of religion promise to lay bare the cognitive mechanisms that generate religious beliefs in human beings. Defenders of the debunking argument believe that the cognitive mechanisms studied in this field pose a threat to folk theism. A number of influential responses to the debunking argument rely on making two sets of distinctions: proximate/ultimate explanations and specific/general religious beliefs. I argue, however, that such responses have drawbacks and do not make room for folk theism. I suggest that a detour (...)
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  • Naturalistic Explanation for Religious Belief.David Leech & Aku Visala - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (8):552-563.
  • Mind the Gap(S): Sociality, Morality, and Oxytocin. [REVIEW]Benjamin James Fraser - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (1):143-150.
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