Naturalistic Moral Realism and Evolutionary Biology

Philosophies 7 (1):2 (2021)
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Perhaps the most familiar understanding of “naturalism” derives from Quine, understanding it as a continuity of empirical theories of the world as described through the scientific method. So, it might be surprising that one of the most important naturalistic moral realists, Philippa Foot, rejects standard evolutionary biology in her justly lauded _Natural Goodness_. One of her main reasons for this is the true claim that humans can flourish (eudaimonia) without reproducing, which she claims cannot be squared with evolutionary theory and biology more generally. The present argument concludes that Foot was wrong to reject evolutionary theory as the empirical foundation of naturalized eudaimonist moral realism. This is based on contemporary discussion of _biological function_ and _evolutionary fitness_, from which a definition of “eudaimonia” is constructed. This gives eudaimonist moral realism an empirically respectable foundation.

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Paul Bloomfield
University of Connecticut


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