Nativism and the Evolutionary Debunking of Morality

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (2):231-253 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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 the product of natural selection. Specifically, they present a barrage of increasingly influential challenges against reciprocity-based approaches to moral nativism. In the present paper I defend the nativist account of moral cognition against these criticisms, thereby bolstering the skeptical conclusions of evolutionary debunking arguments. However, Machery and Mallon's critique does successfully highlight several vulnerabilities in Richard Joyce's approach to debunking, suggesting several ways in which it can be revised toward generating a more robust version of the argument.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,168

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Debunking Evolutionary Debunking.Katia Vavova - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 9:76-101.
Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Guy Kahane - 2010 - Noûs 45 (1):103-125.
Process Debunking and Ethics.Shaun Nichols - 2014 - Ethics 124 (4):727-749.
Evolutionary Debunking, Moral Realism and Moral Knowledge.Russ Shafer-Landau - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (1):1-38.
Evolution and Impartiality.Guy Kahane - 2014 - Ethics 124 (2):327-341.


Added to PP

165 (#97,282)

6 months
4 (#243,083)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Brendan Cline
California State University, Channel Islands

Citations of this work

Culture and Cognitive Science.Andreas De Block & Daniel Kelly - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Culture and cognitive science.Jesse Prinz - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The tale of a moderate normative skeptic.Brendan Cline - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (1):141-161.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations