Biology and Philosophy 15 (5):713-732 (2000)

Richard Joyce
Victoria University of Wellington
Suppose that the human tendency to think of certain actions andomissions as morally required – a notion that surely lies at the heart of moral discourse – is a trait that has been naturallyselected for. Many have thought that from this premise we canjustify or vindicate moral concepts. I argue that this is mistaken, and defend Michael Ruse's view that the moreplausible implication is an error theory – the idea thatmorality is an illusion foisted upon us by evolution. Thenaturalistic fallacy is a red herring in this debate,since there is really nothing that counts as a ‘fallacy’ at all. If morality is an illusion, it appears to followthat we should, upon discovering this, abolish moraldiscourse on pain of irrationality. I argue that thisconclusion is too hasty, and that we may be able usefullyto employ a moral discourse, warts and all, withoutbelieving in it.
Keywords Darwin  error theory  ethics  evolution  evolutionary ethics  Mackie  naturalistic fallacy  Ruse
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DOI 10.1023/A:1006742813396
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References found in this work BETA

Principia Ethica.G. E. Moore - 1903 - Dover Publications.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.

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Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Guy Kahane - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):103-125.

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