Evolutionary Skepticism about Morality and Prudential Normativity

Philosophia 46 (4):911-928 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Debunking arguments aim at defeating the justification of a belief by revealing the belief to have a dubious genealogy. One prominent example of such a debunking argument is Richard Joyce’s evolutionary debunking explanation of morality. Joyce’s argument targets only our belief in moral facts, while our belief in prudential facts is exempt from his evolutionary critique. In this paper, I suggest that our belief in prudential facts falls victim to evolutionary debunking, too. Just as our moral sense can be explained in evolutionary terms, so presumably can our tendency to judge our actions in prudential terms. And if the evolutionary explanation of our moral sense has an undermining effect, then so does the evolutionary explanation of our belief in prudential facts. This also undermines moral fictionalism, the view that we have prudential reasons to maintain moral discourse as a fiction. I consider and refute four possible objections to the suggested debunking of our belief in prudential normativity.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,509

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Putting Together Morality and Well-Being.Ruth Chang - 2004 - In Peter Baumann & Monika Betzler (eds.), Practical Conflicts: New Philosophical Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 118--158.
The Tale of a Moderate Normative Skeptic.Brendan Cline - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (1):141-161.
The Authority Account of Prudential Options.Keith Horton - 2015 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):17-35.
The Varieties of Normativity.Derek Clayton Baker - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 567-581.
The Normativity of Morality.Sanghyuk Park - 2002 - Dissertation, University of Kansas
Does It Matter Whether We Do Wrong?Adam Kadlac - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (9):2279-2298.
Morality and Normativity*: Michael J. Perry.Michael J. Perry - 2007 - Legal Theory 13 (3-4):211-255.
Prudence and Anti-Prudence.Evan Simpson - 1998 - American Philosophical Quarterly 35 (1):73 - 86.
Self-Love and Altruism.David O. Brink - 1997 - Social Philosophy and Policy 14 (1):122-157.
Evolutionary Debunking of Moral Realism.Katia Vavova - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (2):104-116.
When Evolutionary Game Theory Explains Morality, What Does It Explain?Justin D'arms - 2000 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (1-2):296-299.


Added to PP

63 (#187,131)

6 months
3 (#210,496)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Peter Königs
Utrecht University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Ethical Intuitionism.Michael Huemer - 2005 - Palgrave Macmillan.
The Myth of Morality.Richard Joyce - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 62 references / Add more references