Could Evolution Explain Our Reliability about Logic

In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology 4. pp. 214 (2013)
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Abstract

We are reliable about logic in the sense that we by-and-large believe logical truths and disbelieve logical falsehoods. Given that logic is an objective subject matter, it is difficult to provide a satisfying explanation of our reliability. This generates a significant epistemological challenge, analogous to the well-known Benacerraf-Field problem for mathematical Platonism. One initially plausible way to answer the challenge is to appeal to evolution by natural selection. The central idea is that being able to correctly deductively reason conferred a heritable survival advantage upon our ancestors. However, there are several arguments that purport to show that evolutionary accounts cannot even in principle explain how it is that we are reliable about logic. In this paper, I address these arguments. I show that there is no general reason to think that evolutionary accounts are incapable of explaining our reliability about logic

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Joshua Schechter
Brown University

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