Evolutionary debunking arguments: moral realism, constructivism, and explaining moral knowledge

Philosophical Explorations 17 (2):126-140 (2014)
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One of the alleged advantages of a constructivist theory in metaethics is that the theory avoids the epistemological problems with moral realism while reaping many of realism's benefits. According to evolutionary debunking arguments, the epistemological problem with moral realism is that the evolutionary history of our moral beliefs makes it hard to see how our moral beliefs count as knowledge of moral facts, realistically construed. Certain forms of constructivism are supposed to be immune to this argument, giving the view a key advantage. This paper considers the challenge that evolutionary debunking arguments pose for the possibility of moral knowledge and concludes that such arguments do not reveal any advantages for constructivism. Furthermore, once we consider how defenders of moral knowledge should best respond to this epistemological objection, constructivists may face more difficulties, not less, explaining how our moral beliefs represent moral knowledge.



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Elizabeth Tropman
Colorado State University

References found in this work

The sources of normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Onora O'Neill.
A Darwinian dilemma for realist theories of value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (196):384-394.

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