Better than our nature

Cambridge University Press (2017)
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Abstract

The fact of evolution raises important questions for the position of moral realism, because the origin of our moral dispositions in a contingent evolutionary process is on the face of it incompatible with the view that our moral beliefs track independent moral truths. Moreover, this meta-ethical worry seems to undermine the normative justification of our moral norms and beliefs. If we don’t have any grounds to believe that the source of our moral beliefs has any ontological authority, how can our moral judgments be justified in an objective way? In this chapter, I argue that while traditional moral realism is untenable in the light of evolution, normative justification should not be handed the same fate. It is precisely in the fact that moral norms and beliefs are grounded in evolved, innate and therefore universally shared intuitions that those norms and beliefs can be objective-for-us. Such an internalist justification allows us to differentiate moral right from wrong, not because some feature of the external world forces us to acknowledge this, but because our moral nature forces us to project this moral judgment on the world. What’s more, guided by this innate moral compass we can both assess and realize moral progress.

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Michael Vlerick
Tilburg University

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