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Moral Cheesecake, Evolved Psychology, and the Debunking Impulse

In Richard Joyce (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy. New York, NY, USA: pp. 342-358 (2017)

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  1. Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
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  • Hume Variations.Jerry A. Fodor - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
    Hume? Yes, David Hume, that's who Jerry Fodor looks to for help in advancing our understanding of the mind. Fodor claims his Treatise of Human Nature as the foundational document of cognitive science: it launched the project of constructing an empirical psychology on the basis of a representational theory of mind. Going back to this work after more than 250 years we find that Hume is remarkably perceptive about the components and structure that a theory of mind requires. Careful study (...)
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  • Disgust as Heuristic.Robert Fischer - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (3):679-693.
    Suppose that disgust can provide evidence of moral wrongdoing. What account of disgust might make sense of this? A recent and promising theory is the social contagion view, proposed by Alexandra Plakias. After criticizing both its descriptive and normative claims, I draw two conclusions. First, we should question the wisdom of drawing so straight a line from biological poisons and pathogens to social counterparts. Second, we don’t need to explain the evidential value of disgust by appealing to what the response (...)
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  • Debunking Morality: Evolutionary Naturalism and Moral Error Theory.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2003 - Biology and Philosophy 18 (4):567-581.
    The paper distinguishes three strategies by means of which empirical discoveries about the nature of morality can be used to undermine moral judgements. On the first strategy, moral judgements are shown to be unjustified in virtue of being shown to rest on ignorance or false belief. On the second strategy, moral judgements are shown to be false by being shown to entail claims inconsistent with the relevant empirical discoveries. On the third strategy, moral judgements are shown to be false in (...)
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  • The Weirdest People in the World?Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):61-83.
    Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world's top journals based on samples drawn entirely from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. Researchers assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that these are as representative of the species as any other population. Are these assumptions justified? Here, our review of the comparative database from across the behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across (...)
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  • The Epistemological Challenge to Metanormative Realism: How Best to Understand It, and How to Cope with It.David Enoch - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (3):413-438.
    Metaethical—or, more generally, metanormative— realism faces a serious epistemological challenge. Realists owe us—very roughly speaking—an account of how it is that we can have epistemic access to the normative truths about which they are realists. This much is, it seems, uncontroversial among metaethicists, myself included. But this is as far as the agreement goes, for it is not clear—nor uncontroversial—how best to understand the challenge, what the best realist way of coping with it is, and how successful this attempt is. (...)
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  • Making Psychology Normatively Significant.Regina A. Rini - 2013 - The Journal of Ethics 17 (3):257-274.
    The debate between proponents and opponents of a role for empirical psychology in ethical theory seems to be deadlocked. This paper aims to clarify the terms of that debate, and to defend a principled middle position. I argue against extreme views, which see empirical psychology either as irrelevant to, or as wholly displacing, reflective moral inquiry. Instead, I argue that moral theorists of all stripes are committed to a certain conception of moral thought—as aimed at abstracting away from individual inclinations (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and the Reliability of Moral Cognition.Ben Fraser - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (2):457-473.
    Recent debate in metaethics over evolutionary debunking arguments against morality has shown a tendency to abstract away from relevant empirical detail. Here, I engage the debate about Darwinian debunking of morality with relevant empirical issues. I present four conditions that must be met in order for it to be reasonable to expect an evolved cognitive faculty to be reliable: the environment, information, error, and tracking conditions. I then argue that these conditions are not met in the case of our evolved (...)
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  • The Psychology of Meta-Ethics: Exploring Objectivism.Geoffrey P. Goodwin & John M. Darley - 2008 - Cognition 106 (3):1339-1366.
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  • Evolution and Normative Scepticism.Karl Schafer - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):471-488.
    It is increasingly common to suggest that the combination of evolutionary theory and normative realism leads inevitably to a general scepticism about our ability to reliably form normative beliefs. In what follows, I argue that this is not the case. In particular, I consider several possible arguments from evolutionary theory and normative realism to normative scepticism and explain where they go wrong. I then offer a more general diagnosis of the tendency to accept such arguments and why this tendency should (...)
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  • An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.DAVID HUME - 1751 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Introduction to the work David Hume described as the best of his many writings.
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  • Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology.David M. Buss (ed.) - 2005 - Wiley.
    TABLE OF CONTENTS Foreword xi Steven Pinker Acknowledgments xvii Contributors xix Introduction: The Emergence of Evolutionary Psychology xxiii David M. Buss PART I FOUNDATIONS OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY David M. Buss 1 Conceptual Foundations of Evolutionary Psychology 5 John Tooby and Leda Cosmides 2 Life History Theory and Evolutionary Psychology 68 Hillard S. Kaplan and Steven W. Gangestad 3 Domain Specificity and Intuitive Ontology 96 Pascal Boyer and H. Clark Barrett 4 Methods of Evolutionary Sciences 119 Jeffry A. Simpson and Lorne (...)
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  • Ruling Passions.Simon Blackburn - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (1):122-135.
    Ruling Passions is about human nature. It is an invitation to see human nature a certain way. It defends this way of looking at ourselves against competitors, including rational choice theory, modern Kantianism, various applications of evolutionary psychology, views that enchant our natures, and those that disenchant them in the direction of relativism or nihilism. It is a story centred upon a view of human ethical nature, which it places amongst other facets of human nature, as just one of the (...)
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  • A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1911 - Dent.
    'These new Oxford University Press editions have been meticulously collated from various exatant versions. Each text has an excellent introduction including an overview of Hume's thought and an account of his life and times. Even the difficult, and rarely commented-on, chapters on space and time are elucidated. There are also useful notes on the text and glossary. These scholarly new editions are ideally adapted for a whole range of readers, from beginners to experts.' -Jane O'Grady, Catholic Herald, 4/8/00. One of (...)
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  • The Great Endarkenment: Philosophy for an Age of Hyperspecialization.Elijah Millgram - 2015 - Oxford University Press USA.
    Human beings have always been specialists, but over the past two centuries division of labor has become deeper, ubiquitous, and much more fluid. The form it now takes brings in its wake a series of problems that are simultaneously philosophical and practical, having to do with coordinating the activities of experts in different disciplines who do not understand one another. Because these problems are unrecognized, and because we do not have solutions for them, we are on the verge of an (...)
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  • Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind.Matthew M. Hurley, Daniel Clement Dennett & Reginald B. Adams - 2013 - MIT Press.
    Some things are funny -- jokes, puns, sitcoms, Charlie Chaplin, The Far Side, Malvolio with his yellow garters crossed -- but why? Why does humor exist in the first place? Why do we spend so much of our time passing on amusing anecdotes, making wisecracks, watching _The Simpsons_? In _Inside Jokes_, Matthew Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams offer an evolutionary and cognitive perspective. Humor, they propose, evolved out of a computational problem that arose when our long-ago ancestors were furnished (...)
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  • Deconstructing the Mind.Stephen P. Stich - 1996 - Oup Usa.
    In this book, Stich unravels - or deconstructs - the doctrine called "eliminativism". Eliminativism claims that beliefs, desires, and many other mental states we use to describe the mind do not exist, but are fiction posits of a badly mistaken theory of "folk psychology". Stich makes a u-turn in his book, opening up new and controversial positions.
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  • A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
    Contemporary realist theories of value claim to be compatible with natural science. In this paper, I call this claim into question by arguing that Darwinian considerations pose a dilemma for these theories. The main thrust of my argument is this. Evolutionary forces have played a tremendous role in shaping the content of human evaluative attitudes. The challenge for realist theories of value is to explain the relation between these evolutionary influences on our evaluative attitudes, on the one hand, and the (...)
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  • The Ethical Project.Philip Kitcher - 2011 - Harvard University Press.
    Instead of conceiving ethical commands as divine revelations or as the discoveries of brilliant thinkers, we should see our ethical practices as evolving over tens of thousands of years, as members of our species have worked out how to live together and prosper. Here, Kitcher elaborates his radical vision of this millennia-long ethical project.
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  • Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Guy Kahane - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):103-125.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments are arguments that appeal to the evolutionary origins of evaluative beliefs to undermine their justification. This paper aims to clarify the premises and presuppositions of EDAs—a form of argument that is increasingly put to use in normative ethics. I argue that such arguments face serious obstacles. It is often overlooked, for example, that they presuppose the truth of metaethical objectivism. More importantly, even if objectivism is assumed, the use of EDAs in normative ethics is incompatible with a (...)
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  • The Evolution of Morality.Richard Joyce - 2005 - Bradford.
    Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow (...)
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  • Debunking Evolutionary Debunking of Ethical Realism.William J. FitzPatrick - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):883-904.
    What implications, if any, does evolutionary biology have for metaethics? Many believe that our evolutionary background supports a deflationary metaethics, providing a basis at least for debunking ethical realism. Some arguments for this conclusion appeal to claims about the etiology of the mental capacities we employ in ethical judgment, while others appeal to the etiology of the content of our moral beliefs. In both cases the debunkers’ claim is that the causal roles played by evolutionary factors raise deep epistemic problems (...)
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  • On Romantic Love: Simple Truths About a Complex Emotion.Berit Brogaard - 2015 - Oup Usa.
    Written with a general audience in mind, On Romantic Love offers a new theory of love as a partially unconscious, sometimes rational and always controllable emotion, while explaining some of the neuroscience underlying our wildest passions.
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  • How We Hope: A Moral Psychology.Adrienne Martin - 2014 - Princeton University Press.
    What exactly is hope and how does it influence our decisions? In How We Hope, Adrienne Martin presents a novel account of hope, the motivational resources it presupposes, and its function in our practical lives. She contends that hoping for an outcome means treating certain feelings, plans, and imaginings as justified, and that hope thereby involves sophisticated reflective and conceptual capacities. Martin develops this original perspective on hope--what she calls the "incorporation analysis"--in contrast to the two dominant philosophical conceptions of (...)
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  • The Disunity of Morality and Why It Matters to Philosophy.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2012 - The Monist 95 (3):355-377.
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  • The Good and the Gross.Alexandra Plakias - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2):261-278.
    Recent empirical studies have established that disgust plays a role in moral judgment. The normative significance of this discovery remains an object of philosophical contention, however; ‘disgust skeptics’ such as Martha Nussbaum have argued that disgust is a distorting influence on moral judgment and has no legitimate role to play in assessments of moral wrongness. I argue, pace Nussbaum, that disgust’s role in the moral domain parallels its role in the physical domain. Just as physical disgust tracks physical contamination and (...)
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  • Carving Intuition at its Joints.Jason Schukraft - 2016 - Metaphilosophy 47 (3):326-352.
    A central metaphilosophical project seeks to evaluate the reliability of the types of evidence that figure in philosophical arguments and, relatedly, the justificatory status of relying on those types of evidence. Traditionally, metaphilosophers have approached this project via an analysis of intuition. This article argues that the category picked out by “intuition” is both too broad and too heterogeneous to serve as the appropriate target for metaphilosophical inquiry. Intuition is a gerrymandered and disjunctive kind, undeserving of the widespread attention it (...)
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  • The Normative Insignificance of Neuroscience.Selim Berker - 2009 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (4):293-329.
    It has been claimed that the recent wave of neuroscientific research into the physiological underpinnings of our moral intuitions has normative implications. In particular, it has been claimed that this research discredits our deontological intuitions about cases, without discrediting our consequentialist intuitions about cases. In this paper I demur. I argue that such attempts to extract normative conclusions from neuroscientific research face a fundamental dilemma: either they focus on the emotional or evolved nature of the psychological processes underlying deontological intuitions, (...)
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  • The Evolution of Retribution: Intuitions Undermined.Isaac Wiegman - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (2):490-510.
    Recent empirical work suggests that emotions are responsible for anti-consequentialist intuitions. For instance, anger places value on actions of revenge and retribution, value not derived from the consequences of these actions. As a result, it contributes to the development of retributive intuitions. I argue that if anger evolved to produce these retributive intuitions because of their biological consequences, then these intuitions are not a good indicator that punishment has value apart from its consequences. This severs the evidential connection between retributive (...)
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  • Ethics and Intuitions.Peter Singer - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):331-352.
    For millennia, philosophers have speculated about the origins of ethics. Recent research in evolutionary psychology and the neurosciences has shed light on that question. But this research also has normative significance. A standard way of arguing against a normative ethical theory is to show that in some circumstances the theory leads to judgments that are contrary to our common moral intuitions. If, however, these moral intuitions are the biological residue of our evolutionary history, it is not clear why we should (...)
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  • The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology.Jerry A. Fodor - 1983 - Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    This study synthesizes current information from the various fields of cognitive science in support of a new and exciting theory of mind. Most psychologists study horizontal processes like memory and information flow; Fodor postulates a vertical and modular psychological organization underlying biologically coherent behaviors. This view of mental architecture is consistent with the historical tradition of faculty psychology while integrating a computational approach to mental processes. One of the most notable aspects of Fodor's work is that it articulates features not (...)
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  • Nativism and the Evolutionary Debunking of Morality.Brendan Cline - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (2):231-253.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments purport to undercut the justification of our moral judgments by showing why a tendency to make moral judgments would evolve regardless of the truth of those judgments. Machery and Mallon (2010. Evolution of morality. In J.M. Doris and The Moral Psychology Research Group (Eds.), The Moral Psychology Handbook (pp. 3-46). Oxford: Oxford University Press) have recently tried to disarm these arguments by showing that moral cognition – in the sense that is relevant to debunking – is not (...)
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  • Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong.John Leslie Mackie - 1977 - Penguin Books.
    John Mackie's stimulating book is a complete and clear treatise on moral theory. His writings on normative ethics-the moral principles he recommends-offer a fresh approach on a much neglected subject, and the work as a whole is undoubtedly a major contribution to modern philosophy.The author deals first with the status of ethics, arguing that there are not objective values, that morality cannot be discovered but must be made. He examines next the content of ethics, seeing morality as a functional device, (...)
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  • Relative Justice: Cultural Diversity, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility.Tamler Sommers - 2012 - Princeton University Press.
    [Publisher's description:] When can we be morally responsible for our behavior? Is it fair to blame people for actions that are determined by heredity and environment? Can we be responsible for the actions of relatives or members of our community? In this provocative book, Tamler Sommers concludes that there are no objectively correct answers to these questions. Drawing on research in anthropology, psychology, and a host of other disciplines, Sommers argues that cross-cultural variation raises serious problems for theories that propose (...)
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  • How the Mind Works.Steven Pinker - 1997 - Norton.
    A provocative assessment of human thought and behavior, reissued with a new afterword, explores a range of conundrums from the ability of the mind to perceive three dimensions to the nature of consciousness, in an account that draws on ...
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  • Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach.Dan Sperber - 1996 - Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
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  • The Architecture of the Mind: Massive Modularity and the Flexibility of Thought.Peter Carruthers - 2006 - Oxford University Press UK.
    This book is a comprehensive development and defense of one of the guiding assumptions of evolutionary psychology: that the human mind is composed of a large number of semi-independent modules. The Architecture of the Mind has three main goals. One is to argue for massive mental modularity. Another is to answer a 'How possibly?' challenge to any such approach. The first part of the book lays out the positive case supporting massive modularity. It also outlines how the thesis should best (...)
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  • Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment.Shaun Nichols - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
    Sentimental Rules is an ambitious and highly interdisciplinary work, which proposes and defends a new theory about the nature and evolution of moral judgment. In it, philosopher Shaun Nichols develops the theory that emotions play a critical role in both the psychological and the cultural underpinnings of basic moral judgment. Nichols argues that our norms prohibiting the harming of others are fundamentally associated with our emotional responses to those harms, and that such 'sentimental rules' enjoy an advantage in cultural evolution, (...)
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  • The Metaphysics Within Physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    A modest proposal concerning laws, counterfactuals, and explanations - - Why be Humean? -- Suggestions from physics for deep metaphysics -- On the passing of time -- Causation, counterfactuals, and the third factor -- The whole ball of wax -- Epilogue : a remark on the method of metaphysics.
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  • The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture.Jerome H. Barkow, Leda Cosmides & John Tooby - 1992 - Oxford University Press.
    Second, this collection of cognitive programs evolved in the Pleistocene to solve the adaptive problems regularly faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors-...
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  • Morality and Mathematics: The Evolutionary Challenge.Justin Clarke-Doane - 2012 - Ethics 122 (2):313-340.
    It is commonly suggested that evolutionary considerations generate an epistemological challenge for moral realism. At first approximation, the challenge for the moral realist is to explain our having many true moral beliefs, given that those beliefs are the products of evolutionary forces that would be indifferent to the moral truth. An important question surrounding this challenge is the extent to which it generalizes. In particular, it is of interest whether the Evolutionary Challenge for moral realism is equally a challenge for (...)
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  • Hard Feelings: The Moral Psychology of Contempt.Macalester Bell - 2013 - Oup Usa.
    Bell argues that contempt has an important role to play in confronting and addressing immorality, and in that respect is essential to moral relations. Her book is not just a defense of contempt, but an account of the virtues and vices of it, providing a model for thinking more generally about the negative emotions as a response to vice.
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  • Wise Choices, Apt Feelings.Allan Gibbard - 1990 - Ethics 102 (2):342-356.
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  • Special Sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1995 - In Paul K. Moser & J. D. Trout (eds.), Contemporary Materialism: A Reader. London: Routledge. pp. 51-64.
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  • Functions as Selected Effects: The Conceptual Analyst’s Defense.Karen Neander - 1991 - Philosophy of Science 58 (2):168-184.
    In this paper I defend an etiological theory of biological functions (according to which the proper function of a trait is the effect for which it was selected by natural selection) against three objections which have been influential. I argue, contrary to Millikan, that it is wrong to base our defense of the theory on a rejection of conceptual analysis, for conceptual analysis does have an important role in philosophy of science. I also argue that biology requires a normative notion (...)
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  • Evolution of Morality.Edouard Machery & Ron Mallon - 2010 - In John Michael Doris (ed.), The Moral Psychology Handbook. Oxford University Press. pp. 3.
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  • Hiding From Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law.Martha C. Nussbaum - 2004 - Princeton University Press.
    Should laws about sex and pornography be based on social conventions about what is disgusting? Should felons be required to display bumper stickers or wear T-shirts that announce their crimes? This powerful and elegantly written book, by one of America's most influential philosophers, presents a critique of the role that shame and disgust play in our individual and social lives and, in particular, in the law.Martha Nussbaum argues that we should be wary of these emotions because they are associated in (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking of Moral Realism.Katia Vavova - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (2):104-116.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments move from a premise about the influence of evolutionary forces on our moral beliefs to a skeptical conclusion about those beliefs. My primary aim is to clarify this empirically grounded epistemological challenge. I begin by distinguishing among importantly different sorts of epistemological attacks. I then demonstrate that instances of each appear in the literature under the ‘evolutionary debunking’ title. Distinguishing them clears up some confusions and helps us better understand the structure and potential of evolutionary debunking arguments.
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  • On the Evolutionary Debunking of Morality.Erik J. Wielenberg - 2010 - Ethics 120 (3):441-464.
    Evolutionary debunkers of morality hold this thesis: If S’s moral belief that P can be given an evolutionary explanation, then S’s moral belief that P is not knowledge. In this paper, I debunk a variety of arguments for this thesis. I first sketch a possible evolutionary explanation for some human moral beliefs. Next, I explain how, given a reliabilist approach to warrant, my account implies that humans possess moral knowledge. Finally, I examine the debunking arguments of Michael Ruse, Sharon Street, (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking, Moral Realism and Moral Knowledge.Russ Shafer-Landau - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (1):1-38.
    This paper reconstructs what I take to be the central evolutionary debunking argument that underlies recent critiques of moral realism. The argument claims that given the extent of evolutionary influence on our moral faculties, and assuming the truth of moral realism, it would be a massive coincidence were our moral faculties reliable ones. Given this coincidence, any presumptive warrant enjoyed by our moral beliefs is defeated. So if moral realism is true, then we can have no warranted moral beliefs, and (...)
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