Are Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Really Self-Defeating?

Philosophia 43 (3):877-889 (2015)
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Evolutionary Debunking Arguments are defined as arguments that appeal to the evolutionary genealogy of our beliefs to undermine their justification. Recently, Helen De Cruz and her co-authors supported the view that EDAs are self-defeating: if EDAs claim that human arguments are not justified, because the evolutionary origin of the beliefs which figure in such arguments undermines those beliefs, and EDAs themselves are human arguments, then EDAs are not justified, and we should not accept their conclusions about the fact that human arguments are unjustified. De Cruz's objection to EDAs is similar to the objection raised by Reuben Hersh against the claim that, since by Gödel's second incompleteness theorem the purpose of mathematical logic to give a secure foundation for mathematics cannot be achieved, mathematics cannot be said to be absolutely certain. The response given by Carlo Cellucci to Hersh's objection shows that the claim that by Gödel's results mathematics cannot be said to be absolutely certain is not self-defeating, and can be adopted to show that EDAs are not self-defeating as well in a twofold sense: an argument analogous to Cellucci's one may be developed to face De Cruz's objection, and such argument may be further refined incorporating Cellucci's response itself in it, to make it stronger. This paper aims at showing that the accusation of being self-defeating moved against EDAs is inadequate by elaborating an argument which can be considered an EDA and which can also be shown not to be self-defeating

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Fabio Sterpetti
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza


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