A defence of the evolutionary debunking argument

Dissertation, University of Birmingham (2021)
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In this thesis, I will explore the epistemological evolutionary debunking arguments in meta-ethics. I will defend these arguments by accomplishing two tasks: I will offer the best way to understand the EDA and I will also respond to two strongest objections to the EDA. Firstly, in Part I of this thesis, I will offer my account of how the EDA should be best formulated. I will start from how evolution has significantly influenced our moral beliefs. I will then explain why, due to their evolutionary origin, our moral beliefs are not tracking the moral truth reliably. Furthermore, I will argue that the fact that our moral beliefs are not tracking the moral truth also provides an undercutting and a higher-order defeater for those beliefs. As a result, I will conclude that the epistemic status of our moral beliefs is undermined because of these two kinds of defeaters. Secondly, in Part II of this thesis, I will turn my attention to the two strongest objections to the EDA – the Conceptual Truth Objection and the Third Factor Objection. I will first offer two responses to the Conceptual Truth Objection and, based on these two responses, I will argue that the Conceptual Truth Objection fails as a challenge to the EDA. I will then also argue that there currently doesn’t exist an acceptable version of the Third Factor Objection and it is also unlikely that such a version could be constructed in the future. I will finally conclude that both objections are problematic and they are thus unable to give us reason to doubt the EDA.



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Man-Him Ip
University of Leeds

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.

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