The Limits of Rational Belief Revision: A Dilemma for the Darwinian Debunker

Noûs 55 (3):717-734 (2021)
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Abstract

We are fallible creatures, prone to making all sorts of mistakes. So, we should be open to evidence of error. But what constitutes such evidence? And what is it to rationally accommodate it? I approach these questions by considering an evolutionary debunking argument according to which (a) we have good, scientific, reason to think our moral beliefs are mistaken, and (b) rationally accommodating this requires revising our confidence in, or altogether abandoning the suspect beliefs. I present a dilemma for such debunkers, which shows that either we have no reason to worry about our moral beliefs, or we do but we can self-correct. Either way, moral skepticism doesn’t follow. That the evolutionary debunking argument fails is important; also important, however, is what its failure reveals about rational belief revision. Specifically, it suggests that getting evidence of error is a non-trivial endeavor and that we cannot learn that we are likely to be mistaken about some matter from a neutral stance on that matter.

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Katia Vavova
Mount Holyoke College

References found in this work

Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism.David Enoch - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Moral realism: a defence.Russ Shafer-Landau - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
A Darwinian dilemma for realist theories of value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Natural goodness.Philippa Foot - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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