Are Moral Judgements Adaptations? Three Reasons Why It Is so Difficult to Tell

South African Journal of Philosophy 36 (3):425-439 (2017)
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An increasing number of scholars argue that moral judgements are adaptations, i.e., that they have been shaped by natural selection. Is this hypothesis true? In this paper I shall not attempt to answer this important question. Rather, I pursue the more modest aim of pointing out three difficulties that anybody who sets out to determine the adaptedness of moral judgments should be aware of (though some so far have not been aware of). First, the hypothesis that moral judgements are adaptations has been advocated in various different specificities and scopes, and on various different levels. Second, the three kinds of evidence that have most often been appealed to by discussants of this hypothesis require additional arguments. And third, there is significant reasonable disagreement about what moral judgements essentially are.

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Thomas Pölzler
University of Graz


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