Famine, Affluence and Intuitions: Evolutionary Debunking Proves Too Much

Disputatio 10 (48):57-70 (2018)

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 are more reliable than ‘impersonal’ intuitions, and vice versa. Thus, Singer’s evolutionary debunking argument proves too much, and should not be taken seriously. However, Singer’s debunking argument is typical of an entire class of arguments that seeks to debunk normative principles by reference to evolution. This entire class of argument, I argue, therefore also proves too much to be taken seriously.
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DOI 10.2478/disp-2018-0003
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References found in this work BETA

Debunking Evolutionary Debunking.Katia Vavova - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 9:76-101.
A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Ethics and Intuitions.Peter Singer - 2005 - Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):331-352.
Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.

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Citations of this work BETA

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