What's the Coincidence in Debunking?

Abstract

Many moral debunking arguments are driven by the idea that the correlation between our moral beliefs and the moral truths is a big coincidence, given a robustly realist conception of morality. One influential response is that the correlation is not a coincidence because there is a common explainer of our moral beliefs and the moral truths. For example, the reason that I believe that I should feed my child is because feeding my child helps them to survive, and natural selection instills in me beliefs and dispositions that help my children survive since that is conductive to my genes continuing through the generations. Similarly, the reason that it’s morally good to feed my child is because it helps them to survive, and survival is morally valuable. But if we look at some cases from scientific practice, and from everyday life, we can see, I argue, why this response fails. A correlation can be coincidental even if there is a common explainer. I give an account of the nature of coincidence that draws upon recent literature on scientific explanation and argue that the correlation between moral belief and moral truth is a coincidence, even given such common explainers. And I use this to defend a certain form of debunking argument.

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Author's Profile

Harjit Bhogal
University of Maryland, College Park

References found in this work

The Metaphysics Within Physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Debunking Evolutionary Debunking.Katia Vavova - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 9:76-101.
A Causal Theory of Knowing.Alvin I. Goldman - 1967 - Journal of Philosophy 64 (12):357-372.

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