Why there are no objective values: A critique of ethical intuitionism from an evolutionary point of view [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 7 (3):315-330 (1992)
Using concepts of evolutionary game theory, this paper presents a critique of ethical intuitionism, or non-naturalism, in its cognitivist and objectivist interpretation. While epistemological considerations suggest that human rational learning through experience provides no basis for objective moral knowledge, it is argued below that modern evolutionary theory explains why this is so, i.e., why biological organisms do not evolve so as to experience objective preferences and obligations. The difference between the modes of the cognition of objective and of valuative environmental attributes is explained with reference to different modes of natural selection acting on the cognitive apparatus of the organism. The negative implications are pointed out which the observable diversity of intraspecific behavioural adaptations and of cultural values has for the cognitivist, objectivist foundation of ethics. Eventually a non-cognitivist alternative to ethical intuitionism is outlined in terms of empirical authority relations, with the ritualisation of dominance-submission patterns as the evolutionary origin of human charismatic authority.
Keywords Ethical intuitionism  foundation of ethics  evolutionary metaethics  evolutionary epistemology  objective values
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00129973
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,488
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Gebhard Geiger (1995). Why Are There No Objective Values? Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 26 (1):35-62.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

98 ( #48,085 of 1,925,796 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #212,003 of 1,925,796 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.