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  1. Debunking Arguments: Mathematics, Logic, and Modal Security.Justin Clarke-Doane - forthcoming - In Robert Richards and Michael Ruse (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
    I discuss the structure of genealogical debunking arguments. I argue that they undermine our mathematical beliefs if they undermine our moral beliefs. The contrary appearance stems from a confusion of arithmetic truths with (first-order) logical truths, or from a confusion of reliability with justification. I conclude with a discussion of the cogency of debunking arguments, in light of the above. Their cogency depends on whether information can undermine all of our beliefs of a kind, F, without giving us direct reason (...)
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  2. Recalibrating evolutionary debunking.Justis Koon - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments purport to show that, if moral realism is true, all of our moral beliefs are unjustified. In this paper, I respond to two of the most enduring objections that have been raised against these arguments. The first objection claims that evolutionary debunking arguments are self-undermining, because they cannot be formulated without invoking epistemic principles, and epistemic principles are just as vulnerable to debunking as our moral beliefs. I argue that this objection suffers from several defects, the most (...)
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  3. Etiological Debunking Beyond Belief.Joshua Schechter - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaethics.
    Learning information about the etiology of one's beliefs can reduce the justification a thinker has for those beliefs. Learning information about the etiology of one's desires, emotions, or concepts can similarly have a debunking effect. In this chapter, I develop a unified account of etiological debunking that applies across these different kinds of cases. According to this account, etiological debunking arguments work by providing reason to think that there is no satisfying explanation of how it is that some part of (...)
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  4. Neutrality and Force in Field's Epistemological Objection to Platonism.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Field’s challenge to platonists is the challenge to explain the reliable match between mathematical truth and belief. The challenge grounds an objection claiming that platonists cannot provide such an explanation. This objection is often taken to be both neutral with respect to controversial epistemological assumptions, and a comparatively forceful objection against platonists. I argue that these two characteristics are in tension: no construal of the objection in the current literature realises both, and there are strong reasons to think that no (...)
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  5. Genealogical Defeat and Ontological Sparsity.Jonathan Barker - 2023 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 47:1-23.
    When and why does awareness of a belief's genealogy render it irrational to continue holding that belief? According to explanationism, awareness of a belief’s genealogy gives rise to an epistemic defeater when and because it reveals that the belief is not explanatorily connected to the relevant worldly facts. I argue that an influential recent version of explanationism, due to Korman and Locke, incorrectly implies that it is not rationally permissible to adopt a “sparse” ontology of worldly facts or states of (...)
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  6. Debunking Debunking: Explanationism, Probabilistic Sensitivity, and Why There is No Specifically Metacognitive Debunking Principle.David Bourget & Angela Mendelovici - 2023 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 47:25-52.
    On explanationist accounts of genealogical debunking, roughly, a belief is debunked when its explanation is not suitably related to its content. We argue that explanationism cannot accommodate cases in which beliefs are explained by factors unrelated to their contents but are nonetheless independently justified. Justification-specific versions of explanationism face an iteration of the problem. The best account of debunking is a probabilistic account according to which subject S’s justification J for their belief that P is debunked when S learns that (...)
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  7. From Moral Realism to Axiarchism.Brian Cutter - 2023 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 47:73-101.
    Moral realism faces a well known genealogical debunking challenge. I argue that the moral realist’s best response may involve abandoning metaphysical naturalism in favor of some form of axiarchism—the view, very roughly, that the natural world is “ordered to the good.” Axiarchism comes in both theistic and non-theistic forms, but all forms agree that the natural world exists and has certain basic features because it is good for it to exist and have those features. I argue that theistic and non-theistic (...)
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  8. Modal Security and Evolutionary Debunking.Daniel Z. Korman & Dustin Locke - 2023 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 47:135-156.
    According to principles of modal security, evidence undermines a belief only when it calls into question certain purportedly important modal connections between one’s beliefs and the truth (e.g., safety or sensitivity). Justin Clarke-Doane and Dan Baras have advanced such principles with the aim of blocking evolutionary moral debunking arguments. We examine a variety of different principles of modal security, showing that some of these are too strong, failing to accommodate clear cases of undermining, while others are too weak, failing to (...)
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  9. An Explanationist Account of Genealogical Defeat.Daniel Z. Korman & Dustin Locke - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (1):176-195.
    Sometimes, learning about the origins of a belief can make it irrational to continue to hold that belief—a phenomenon we call ‘genealogical defeat’. According to explanationist accounts, genealogical defeat occurs when one learns that there is no appropriate explanatory connection between one’s belief and the truth. Flatfooted versions of explanationism have been widely and rightly rejected on the grounds that they would disallow beliefs about the future and other inductively-formed beliefs. After motivating the need for some explanationist account, we raise (...)
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  10. Global Evolutionary Arguments: Self-Defeat, Circularity, and Skepticism about Reason.Diego E. Machuca - 2023 - In Evolutionary Debunking Arguments: Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mathematics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. New York: Routledge. pp. 333–359.
    In this essay, I consider an evolutionary debunking argument (EDA) that purports to undermine the epistemic justification of the belief in the reliability of our belief-forming processes, and an evolutionary vindicating argument (EVA) that seeks to establish that such a belief is epistemically justified. Whereas the EDA in question seems to fall prey to crippling self-defeat, the EVA under consideration seems to fall prey to vicious circularity. My interest in those arguments and the problems they face lies in what they (...)
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  11. Introduction.Diego E. Machuca - 2023 - In Evolutionary Debunking Arguments: Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mathematics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. New York: Routledge. pp. 1-12.
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  12. Global Debunking Arguments.Andrew Moon - 2023 - In Diego E. Machuca (ed.), Evolutionary Debunking Arguments: Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mathematics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. Routledge.
    This chapter explores global debunking arguments, debunking arguments that aim to give one a global defeater. I defend Alvin Plantinga’s view that global defeaters are possible and, once gained, are impossible to escape by reasoning. They thereby must be extinguished by other means: epistemically propitious actions, luck, or grace. I then distinguish between three types of global defeater—pure-undercutters, undercutters-because-rebutters, and undercutters-while-rebutters—and systematically consider how one can deflect such defeaters. Lastly, since I draw insights from the literature on perhaps the most (...)
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  13. Debunking Concepts.Matthieu Queloz - 2023 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 47 (1):195-225.
    Genealogies of belief have dominated recent philosophical discussions of genealogical debunking at the expense of genealogies of concepts, which has in turn focused attention on genealogical debunking in an epistemological key. As I argue in this paper, however, this double focus encourages an overly narrow understanding of genealogical debunking. First, not all genealogical debunking can be reduced to the debunking of beliefs—concepts can be debunked without debunking any particular belief, just as beliefs can be debunked without debunking the concepts in (...)
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  14. Theorizing the Normative Significance of Critical Histories for International Law.Damian Cueni & Matthieu Queloz - 2022 - Journal of the History of International Law 24 (4):561-587.
    Though recent years have seen a proliferation of critical histories of international law, their normative significance remains under-theorized, especially from the perspective of general readers rather than writers of such histories. How do critical histories of international law acquire their normative significance? And how should one react to them? We distinguish three ways in which critical histories can be normatively significant: (i) by undermining the overt or covert conceptions of history embedded within present practices in support of their authority; (ii) (...)
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  15. The Epistemology of Debunking Argumentation.Jonathan Egeland - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (4):837-852.
    There is an ever-growing literature on what exactly the condition or criterion is that enables some (but not all) debunking arguments to undermine our beliefs. In this paper, I develop a novel schema for debunking argumentation, arguing that debunking arguments generally have a simple and valid form, but that whether or not they are sound depends on the particular aetiological explanation which the debunker provides in order to motivate acceptance of the individual premises. The schema has three unique features: (1) (...)
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  16. Debunking, Epistemic Achievement, and Undermining Defeat.Michael Klenk - 2022 - American Philosophical Quarterly 59 (1):43-60.
    Several anti-debunkers have argued that evolutionary explanations of our moral beliefs fail to meet a necessary condition on undermining defeat called modal security. They conclude that evolution, therefore, does not debunk our moral beliefs. This article shows that modal security is false if knowledge is virtuous achievement. New information can undermine a given belief without providing reason to doubt that that belief is sensitive or safe. This leads to a novel conception of undermining defeat, and it shows that successful debunking (...)
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  17. On Debunking Color Realism.Daniel Z. Korman & Dustin Locke - 2022 - In Diego E. Machuca (ed.), Evolutionary Debunking Arguments: Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mathematics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. New York: Routledge. pp. 257-277.
    You see a cherry and you experience it as red. A textbook explanation for why you have this sort of experience is going to cite such things as the cherry’s chemical surface properties and the distinctive mixture wavelengths of light it is disposed to reflect. What does not show up in this explanation is the redness of the cherry. Many allege that the availability of color-free explanations of color experience somehow calls into question our beliefs about the colors of objects (...)
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  18. Genealogy, Evaluation, and Engineering.Matthieu Queloz - 2022 - The Monist 105 (4):435-451.
    Against those who identify genealogy with reductive genealogical debunking or deny it any evaluative and action-guiding significance, I argue for the following three claims: that although genealogies, true to their Enlightenment origins, tend to trace the higher to the lower, they need not reduce the higher to the lower, but can elucidate the relation between them and put us in a position to think more realistically about both relata; that if we think of genealogy’s normative significance in terms of a (...)
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  19. The Evolutionary Debunking of Quasi-Realism.Neil Sinclair & James Chamberlain - 2022 - In Diego E. Machuca (ed.), Evolutionary Debunking Arguments: Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mathematics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. London: Routledge. pp. 33-55.
    In “The Evolutionary Debunking of Quasi-Realism,” Neil Sinclair and James Chamberlain present a novel answer that quasi-realists can pro-vide to a version of the reliability challenge in ethics—which asks for an explanation of why our moral beliefs are generally true—and in so doing, they examine whether evolutionary arguments can debunk quasi-realism. Although reliability challenges differ from EDAs in several respects, there may well be a connection between them. For the explanatory premise of an EDA may state that a particular theory (...)
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  20. Genealogical Solutions to the Problem of Critical Distance: Political Theory, Contextualism and the case of Punishment in Transitional Scenarios.Francesco Testini - 2022 - Res Publica 28 (2):271-301.
    In this paper, I argue that one approach to normative political theory, namely contextualism, can benefit from a specific kind of historical inquiry, namely genealogy, because the latter provides a solution to a deep-seated problem for the former. This problem consists in a lack of critical distance and originates from the justificatory role that contextualist approaches attribute to contextual facts. I compare two approaches to genealogical reconstruction, namely the historiographical method pioneered by Foucault and the hybrid method of pragmatic genealogy (...)
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  21. The epistemology of evolutionary debunking.Justis Koon - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12155-12176.
    Fifteen years ago, Sharon Street and Richard Joyce advanced evolutionary debunking arguments against moral realism, which purported to show that the evolutionary history of our moral beliefs makes moral realism untenable. These arguments have since given rise to a flurry of objections; the epistemic principles Street and Joyce relied upon, in particular, have come in for a number of serious challenges. My goal in this paper is to develop a new account of evolutionary debunking which avoids the pitfalls Street and (...)
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  22. A moral critique of psychological debunking.Nicholas Smyth - 2021 - Journal of Social Philosophy 53 (2):255-272.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, Volume 53, Issue 2, Page 255-272, Summer 2022.
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  23. Debunking Arguments and Metaphysical Laws.Jonathan Barker - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (7):1829-1855.
    I argue that one’s views about which “metaphysical laws” obtain—including laws about what is identical with what, about what is reducible to what, and about what grounds what—can be used to deflect or neutralize the threat posed by a debunking explanation. I use a well-known debunking argument in the metaphysics of material objects as a case study. Then, after defending the proposed strategy from the charge of question-begging, I close by showing how the proposed strategy can be used by certain (...)
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  24. Defusing the Regress Challenge to Debunking Arguments.Shang Long Yeo - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (6):785-800.
    A debunking argument contends that some target moral judgments were produced by unreliable processes and concludes that such judgments are unjustified. Debunking arguments face a regress challenge: to show that a process is unreliable at tracking the moral truth, we need to rely on other moral judgments. But we must show that these relied-upon judgments are also reliable, which requires yet a further set of judgments, whose reliability needs to be confirmed too, and so on. Some argue that the debunker (...)
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  25. The Speciesism Debate: Intuition, Method, and Empirical Advances.Jeroen Hopster - 2019 - Animals 9 (12):1-14.
    This article identifies empirical, conceptual and normative avenues to advance the speciesism debate. First, I highlight the application of Evolutionary Debunking Arguments (EDAs) as one such avenue: especially where (anti-)speciesist positions heavily rely on appeals to moral intuition, and EDAs have potential to move the debate forward. Second, an avenue for conceptual progress is the delineation of speciesism from other views in its vicinity, specifically from the view that biological differences between species are sometimes morally relevant (‘species-relativism’). Third, if we (...)
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  26. Debunking arguments.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (12):e12638.
    Debunking arguments—also known as etiological arguments, genealogical arguments, access problems, isolation objec- tions, and reliability challenges—arise in philosophical debates about a diverse range of topics, including causation, chance, color, consciousness, epistemic reasons, free will, grounding, laws of nature, logic, mathematics, modality, morality, natural kinds, ordinary objects, religion, and time. What unifies the arguments is the transition from a premise about what does or doesn't explain why we have certain mental states to a negative assessment of their epistemic status. I examine (...)
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  27. Nietzsche as a Critic of Genealogical Debunking: Making Room for Naturalism without Subversion.Matthieu Queloz & Damian Cueni - 2019 - The Monist 102 (3):277-297.
    This paper argues that Nietzsche is a critic of just the kind of genealogical debunking he is popularly associated with. We begin by showing that interpretations of Nietzsche which see him as engaging in genealogical debunking turn him into an advocate of nihilism, for on his own premises, any truthful genealogical inquiry into our values is going to uncover what most of his contemporaries deem objectionable origins and thus license global genealogical debunking. To escape nihilism and make room for naturalism (...)
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  28. Local Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Richard Rowland - 2019 - Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):170-199.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments in ethics aim to use facts about the evolutionary causes of ethical beliefs to undermine their justification. Global Evolutionary Debunking Arguments (GDAs) are arguments made in metaethics that aim to undermine the justification of all ethical beliefs. Local Evolutionary Debunking Arguments (LDAs) are arguments made in first‐order normative ethics that aim to undermine the justification of only some of our ethical beliefs. Guy Kahane, Regina Rini, Folke Tersman, and Katia Vavova argue for skepticism about the possibility of (...)
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  29. Old wine in new bottles: Evolutionary debunking arguments and the Benacerraf–Field challenge.Michael Klenk - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (4):781-795.
    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, (...)
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  30. Debunking Morality: Lessons from the EAAN Literature.Andrew Moon - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):208-226.
    This paper explores evolutionary debunking arguments as they arise in metaethics against moral realism and in philosophy of religion against naturalism. Both literatures have independently grappled with the question of which beliefs one may use to respond to a potential defeater. In this paper, I show how the literature on the argument against naturalism can help clarify and bring progress to the literature on moral realism with respect to this question. Of note, it will become clear that the objection that (...)
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  31. The Debunking Challenge to Realism: How Evolution (Ultimately) Matters.Levy Arnon & Yair Levy - 2016 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (1):1-8.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments (EDAs) have attracted extensive attention in meta-ethics, as they pose an important challenge to moral realism. Mogensen (2015) suggests that EDAs contain a fallacy, by confusing two distinct forms of biological explanation – ultimate and proximate. If correct, the point is of considerable importance: evolutionary genealogies of human morality are simply irrelevant for debunking. But we argue that the actual situation is subtler: while ultimate claims do not strictly entail proximate ones, there are important evidential connections between (...)
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  32. Debunking and Dispensability.Justin Clarke-Doane - 2016 - In Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.), Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics: Debunking and Dispensability. Oxford University Press.
    In his précis of a recent book, Richard Joyce writes, “My contention…is that…any epistemological benefit-of-the-doubt that might have been extended to moral beliefs…will be neutralized by the availability of an empirically confirmed moral genealogy that nowhere…presupposes their truth.” Such reasoning – falling under the heading “Genealogical Debunking Arguments” – is now commonplace. But how might “the availability of an empirically confirmed moral genealogy that nowhere… presupposes” the truth of our moral beliefs “neutralize” whatever “epistemological benefit-of-the-doubt that might have been extended (...)
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  33. Are Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Self-Debunking?Christos Kyriacou - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (4):1351-1366.
    I argue that, at least on the assumption that if there are epistemic facts they are irreducible, the evolutionary debunking maneuver is prima facie self-debunking because it seems to debunk a certain class of facts, namely, epistemic facts that prima facie it needs to rely on in order to launch its debunking arguments. I then appeal to two recent reconstructions of the evolutionary debunking maneuver (Kahane (2011), Griffiths and Wilkins (2015)) and find them wanting. Along the way I set aside (...)
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  34. Debunking Rationalist Defenses of Common-Sense Ontology: An Empirical Approach.Robert Carry Osborne - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (1):197-221.
    Debunking arguments typically attempt to show that a set of beliefs or other intensional mental states bear no appropriate explanatory connection to the facts they purport to be about. That is, a debunking argument will attempt to show that beliefs about p are not held because of the facts about p. Such beliefs, if true, would then only be accidentally so. Thus, their causal origins constitute an undermining defeater. Debunking arguments arise in various philosophical domains, targeting beliefs about morality, the (...)
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  35. Are Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Really Self-Defeating?Fabio Sterpetti - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (3):877-889.
    Evolutionary Debunking Arguments are defined as arguments that appeal to the evolutionary genealogy of our beliefs to undermine their justification. Recently, Helen De Cruz and her co-authors supported the view that EDAs are self-defeating: if EDAs claim that human arguments are not justified, because the evolutionary origin of the beliefs which figure in such arguments undermines those beliefs, and EDAs themselves are human arguments, then EDAs are not justified, and we should not accept their conclusions about the fact that human (...)
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  36. Evolutionary Debunking of Moral Realism.Katia Vavova - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (2):104-116.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments move from a premise about the influence of evolutionary forces on our moral beliefs to a skeptical conclusion about those beliefs. My primary aim is to clarify this empirically grounded epistemological challenge. I begin by distinguishing among importantly different sorts of epistemological attacks. I then demonstrate that instances of each appear in the literature under the ‘evolutionary debunking’ title. Distinguishing them clears up some confusions and helps us better understand the structure and potential of evolutionary debunking arguments.
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  37. Debunking Evolutionary Debunking.Katia Vavova - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 9:76-101.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments start with a premise about the influence of evolutionary forces on our evaluative beliefs, and conclude that we are not justified in those beliefs. The value realist holds that there are attitude-independent evaluative truths. But the debunker argues that we have no reason to think that the evolutionary forces that shaped human evaluative attitudes would track those truths. Worse yet, we seem to have a good reason to think that they wouldn’t: evolution selects for characteristics that increase (...)
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