Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (4):781-795 (2017)

Authors
Michael Klenk
Delft University of Technology
Abstract
Evolutionary debunking arguments purport to show that robust moral realism, the metaethical view that there are non-natural and mind-independent moral properties and facts that we can know about, is incompatible with evolutionary explanations of morality. One of the most prominent evolutionary debunking arguments is advanced by Sharon Street, who argues that if moral realism were true, then objective moral knowledge is unlikely because realist moral properties are evolutionary irrelevant and moral beliefs about those properties would not be selected for. However, no evolutionary, causal explanation plays an essential role in reaching the argument’s epistemological conclusion. Street’s argument depends on the Benacerraf-Field challenge, which is the challenge to explain the reliability of our moral beliefs about causally inert moral properties. The Benacerraf-Field challenge relies on metaphysically necessary facts about realist moral properties, rather than on contingent Darwinian facts about the origin of our moral beliefs. Attempting to include an essential causal empirical premise yet avoiding recourse to the Benacerraf-Field problem yields an argument that is either self-defeating or of limited scope. Ultimately, evolutionary, causal explanations of our moral beliefs and their consequences do not present the strongest case against robust moral realism. Rather, the question is whether knowledge of casually-inert, mind-intendent properties is plausible at all.
Keywords Evolutionary debunking arguments  Moral epistemology  Moral objectivity  Moral non-naturalism  Sharon Street  Paul Benacerraf
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2017
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-017-9797-y
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
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

A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Realism, Mathematics and Modality.Hartry Field - 1988 - Philosophical Topics 16 (1):57-107.
Mathematical Truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.
Debunking Evolutionary Debunking.Katia Vavova - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 9:76-101.
Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Guy Kahane - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):103-125.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No need to get up from the armchair.Dan Baras - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3):575-590.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Explanatory Challenges in Metaethics.Joshua Schechter - 2018 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 443-459.
What Makes Evolution a Defeater?Matt Lutz - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (6):1105-1126.
Evolutionary Debunking of Moral Realism.Katia Vavova - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (2):104-116.
The Real Problem with Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Louise Hanson - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268):508-33.
Explaining Our Moral Reliability.Sinan Dogramaci - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):71-86.
Moral Explanations of Moral Beliefs.Don Loeb - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (1):193-208.
A New Evolutionary Debunking Argument Against Moral Realism.Justin Morton - 2016 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 2 (2):233-253.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-03-17

Total views
183 ( #54,670 of 2,433,136 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
14 ( #49,124 of 2,433,136 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes