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Debunking and Dispensability

In Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.), Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics: Debunking and Dispensability. Oxford University Press (2016)

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  1. Against Minimalist Responses to Moral Debunking Arguments.Daniel Z. Korman & Dustin Locke - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaethics.
    Moral debunking arguments are meant to show that, by realist lights, moral beliefs are not explained by moral facts, which in turn is meant to show that they lack some significant counterfactual connection to the moral facts (e.g., safety, sensitivity, reliability). The dominant, “minimalist” response to the arguments—sometimes defended under the heading of “third-factors” or “pre-established harmonies”—involves affirming that moral beliefs enjoy the relevant counterfactual connection while granting that these beliefs are not explained by the moral facts. We show that (...)
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  • Debunking, Supervenience, and Hume’s Principle.Mary Leng - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (8):1083-1103.
    Debunking arguments against both moral and mathematical realism have been pressed, based on the claim that our moral and mathematical beliefs are insensitive to the moral/mathematical facts. In the mathematical case, I argue that the role of Hume’s Principle as a conceptual truth speaks against the debunkers’ claim that it is intelligible to imagine the facts about numbers being otherwise while our evolved responses remain the same. Analogously, I argue, the conceptual supervenience of the moral on the natural speaks presents (...)
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  • Moral Lessons From Psychology: Contemporary Themes in Psychological Research and Their Relevance for Ethical Theory.Henrik Ahlenius - 2020 - Stockholm: Stockholm University.
    The thesis investigates the implications for moral philosophy of research in psychology. In addition to an introduction and concluding remarks, the thesis consists of four chapters, each exploring various more specific challenges or inputs to moral philosophy from cognitive, social, personality, developmental, and evolutionary psychology. Chapter 1 explores and clarifies the issue of whether or not morality is innate. The chapter’s general conclusion is that evolution has equipped us with a basic suite of emotions that shape our moral judgments in (...)
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  • Debunking Arguments in Metaethics and Metaphysics.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - In Alvin Goldman & Brian McLaughlin (eds.), Metaphysics and Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 337-363.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments abound, but it is widely assumed that they do not arise for our perceptual beliefs about midsized objects, insofar as the adaptive value of our object beliefs cannot be explained without reference to the objects themselves. I argue that this is a mistake. Just as with moral beliefs, the adaptive value of our object beliefs can be explained without assuming that the beliefs are accurate. I then explore the prospects for other sorts of vindications of our object (...)
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  • Why Metaethics Needs Empirical Moral Psychology.Jeroen Hopster & Michael Klenk - 2020 - Critica 52 (155).
    What is the significance of empirical moral psychology for metaethics? In this article we take up Michael Ruse’s evolutionary debunking argument against moral realism and reassess it in the context of the empirical state of the art. Ruse’s argument depends on the phenomenological presumption that people generally experience morality as objective. We demonstrate how recent experimental findings challenge this widely-shared armchair presumption and conclude that Ruse’s argument fails. We situate this finding in the recent debate about Carnapian explication and argue (...)
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  • Modal Security.Justin Clarke-Doane & Dan Baras - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (1):162-183.
    Modal Security is an increasingly discussed proposed necessary condition on undermining defeat. Modal Security says, roughly, that if evidence undermines (rather than rebuts) one’s belief, then one gets reason to doubt the belief's safety or sensitivity. The primary interest of the principle is that it seems to entail that influential epistemological arguments, including Evolutionary Debunking Arguments against moral realism and the Benacerraf-Field Challenge for mathematical realism, are unsound. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine Modal Security in detail. (...)
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  • No need to get up from the armchair.Dan Baras - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3):575-590.
    Several authors believe that metaethicists ought to leave their comfortable armchairs and engage with serious empirical research. This paper provides partial support for the opposing view, that metaethics is rightly conducted from the armchair. It does so by focusing on debunking arguments against robust moral realism. Specifically, the article discusses arguments based on the possibility that if robust realism is correct, then our beliefs are most likely insensitive to the relevant truths. These arguments seem at first glance to be dependent (...)
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  • Immoral Realism.Max Hayward - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (4):897-914.
    Non-naturalist realists are committed to the belief, famously voiced by Parfit, that if there are no non-natural facts then nothing matters. But it is morally objectionable to conditionalise all our moral commitments on the question of whether there are non-natural facts. Non-natural facts are causally inefficacious, and so make no difference to the world of our experience. And to be a realist about such facts is to hold that they are mind-independent. It is compatible with our experiences that there are (...)
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  • Qual a motivação para se defender uma teoria causal da memória?César Schirmer Dos Santos - 2018 - In Juliano Santos do Carmo & Rogério F. Saucedo Corrêa (eds.), Linguagem e cognição. Pelotas: NEPFil. pp. 63-89.
    Este texto tem como objetivo apresentar a principal motivação filosófica para se defender uma teoria causal da memória, que é explicar como pode um evento que se deu no passado estar relacionado a uma experiência mnêmica que se dá no presente. Para tanto, iniciaremos apresentando a noção de memória de maneira informal e geral, para depois apresentar elementos mais detalhados. Finalizamos apresentando uma teoria causal da memória que se beneficia da noção de veritação (truthmaking).
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  • Access Problems and Explanatory Overkill.Silvia Jonas - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2731-2742.
    I argue that recent attempts to deflect Access Problems for realism about a priori domains such as mathematics, logic, morality, and modality using arguments from evolution result in two kinds of explanatory overkill: the Access Problem is eliminated for contentious domains, and realist belief becomes viciously immune to arguments from dispensability, and to non-rebutting counter-arguments more generally.
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  • A dilemma for evolutionary debunking arguments.Uri D. Leibowitz - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (1):45-69.
    Evolutionary debunkers claim that evolutionary explanations of moral phenomena lead to sceptical conclusions. The aim of this paper is to show that even if we grant debunkers the speculative claims that evolution provides the best explanation of moral phenomena and that there are no other moral phenomena for which moral facts/properties are indispensable, the sceptical conclusions debunkers seek to establish still do not follow. The problem for debunkers is to link the empirical explanatory claim to the normative conclusion that moral (...)
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  • Realism, Reliability, and Epistemic Possibility: On Modally Interpreting the Benacerraf–Field Challenge.Brett Topey - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    A Benacerraf–Field challenge is an argument intended to show that common realist theories of a given domain are untenable: such theories make it impossible to explain how we’ve arrived at the truth in that domain, and insofar as a theory makes our reliability in a domain inexplicable, we must either reject that theory or give up the relevant beliefs. But there’s no consensus about what would count here as a satisfactory explanation of our reliability. It’s sometimes suggested that giving such (...)
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  • Modal Objectivity1.Justin Clarke‐Doane - 2019 - Noûs 53 (2):266-295.
    It is widely agreed that the intelligibility of modal metaphysics has been vindicated. Quine's arguments to the contrary supposedly confused analyticity with metaphysical necessity, and rigid with non-rigid designators.2 But even if modal metaphysics is intelligible, it could be misconceived. It could be that metaphysical necessity is not absolute necessity – the strictest real notion of necessity – and that no proposition of traditional metaphysical interest is necessary in every real sense. If there were nothing otherwise “uniquely metaphysically significant” about (...)
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  • Modal Objectivity.Clarke-Doane Justin - forthcoming - Noûs.
    It is widely agreed that the intelligibility of modal metaphysics has been vindicated. Quine's arguments to the contrary supposedly confused analyticity with metaphysical necessity, and rigid with non-rigid designators.2 But even if modal metaphysics is intelligible, it could be misconceived. It could be that metaphysical necessity is not absolute necessity – the strictest real notion of necessity – and that no proposition of traditional metaphysical interest is necessary in every real sense. If there were nothing otherwise “uniquely metaphysically significant” about (...)
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  • Advanced D&D.Chris Tillman & Joshua Spencer - 2020 - Analysis 80 (3):533-544.
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  • Evolutionary Skepticism About Morality and Prudential Normativity.Peter Königs - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (4):911-928.
    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 (...)
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  • Objectivity and Reliability.Justin Clarke-Doane - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (6):841-855.
    Scanlon’s Being Realistic about Reasons (BRR) is a beautiful book – sleek, sophisticated, and programmatic. One of its key aims is to demystify knowledge of normative and mathematical truths. In this article, I develop an epistemological problem that Scanlon fails to explicitly address. I argue that his “metaphysical pluralism” can be understood as a response to that problem. However, it resolves the problem only if it undercuts the objectivity of normative and mathematical inquiry.
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  • 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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  • What Can Debunking Do for Us (Sceptics and Nihilists)?Jonas Olson - 2019 - Ratio 32 (4):290-299.
    Debunking arguments in metaethics are often presented as particularly challenging for non‐naturalistic versions of moral realism. The first aim of this paper is to explore and defend a response on behalf of non‐naturalism. The second aim of the paper is to argue that although non‐naturalism’s response is satisfactory, this does not mean that debunking arguments are metaethically uninteresting. They have a limited and indirect role to play in the exchange between non‐naturalists and moral error theorists. In the end, debunking arguments (...)
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  • Epistemological Motivations for Anti-Realism.Billy Dunaway - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (11):2763-2789.
    Anti-realism is often claimed to be preferable to realism on epistemological grounds: while realists have difficulty explaining how we can ever know claims if we are realists about it, anti-realism faces no analogous problem. This paper focuses on anti-realism about normativity to investigate this alleged advantage to anti-realism in detail. I set up a framework in which a version of anti-realism explains a type of modal reliability that appears to be epistemologically promising, and plausibly explains the appearance of an epistemological (...)
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