, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 51-64

Do the evolutionary origins of our moral beliefs undermine moral knowledge?

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Abstract

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.