The function of morality

Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1127-1144 (2017)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
What is the function of morality? On this question, something approaching a consensus has recently emerged. Impressed by developments in evolutionary theory, many philosophers now tell us that the function of morality is to reduce social tensions, and to thereby enable a society to efficiently promote the well-being of its members. In this paper, I subject this consensus to rigorous scrutiny, arguing that the functional hypothesis in question is not well supported. In particular, I attack the supposed evidential relation between an evolutionary genealogy of morals and the functional hypothesis itself. I show that there are a great many functionally relevant discontinuities between our own culture and the culture within which morality allegedly emerged, and I argue that this seriously weakens the inference from morality’s evolutionary history to its present-day function.
ISBN(s)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
SMYTFO
Upload history
First archival date: 2016-07-04
Latest version: 3 (2022-01-13)
View other versions
Added to PP
2016-07-04

Downloads
5,730 (#454)

6 months
1,053 (#208)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?