Do the evolutionary origins of our moral beliefs undermine moral knowledge?
- Kevin BrosnanAffiliated withUniversity of Cambridge Email author
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According to some recent arguments, (Joyce in The evolution of morality, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2006; Ruse and Wilson in Conceptual issues in evolutionary biology, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1995; Street in Philos Studies 127: 109–166, 2006) if our moral beliefs are products of natural selection, then we do not have moral knowledge. In defense of this inference, its proponents argue that natural selection is a process that fails to track moral facts. In this paper, I argue that our having moral knowledge is consistent with, (a) the hypothesis that our moral beliefs are products of natural selection, and (b) the claim (or a certain interpretation of the claim) that natural selection fails to track moral facts. I also argue that natural selection is a process that could track moral facts, albeit imperfectly. I do not argue that we do have moral knowledge. I argue instead that Darwinian considerations provide us with no reason to doubt that we do, and with some reasons to suppose that we might.
KeywordsEvolutionary ethics Moral realism Moral epistemology
- Do the evolutionary origins of our moral beliefs undermine moral knowledge?
Biology & Philosophy
Volume 26, Issue 1 , pp 51-64
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
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- Evolutionary ethics
- Moral realism
- Moral epistemology
- Kevin Brosnan (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK