The “evolutionary argument” and the metaphilosophy of commonsense

Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):369-382 (2007)
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Recently in these pages it has been argued that a relatively straightforward version of an old argument based on evolutionary biology and psychology can be employed to support the view that innate ideas are a naturalistic source of metaphysical knowledge. While sympathetic to the view that the “evolutionary argument” is pregnant with philosophical implications, I show in this paper how it needs to be developed and deployed in order to avoid serious philosophical difficulties and unnecessary complications. I sketch a revised version of the evolutionary argument, place it in a new context, and show that this version in this context is not vulnerable to the standard criticisms levelled against arguments of this general type. The philosophical import of this version of the argument lies not in any metaphysical conclusions it sanctions directly, but in the support it lends to the metaphilosophy of commonsense.



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