Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 3, pp 675–697 | Cite as

Debunking debunking: a regress challenge for psychological threats to moral judgment

Article

Abstract

This paper presents a regress challenge to the selective psychological debunking of moral judgments. A selective psychological debunking argument conjoins an empirical claim about the psychological origins of certain moral judgments to a theoretical claim that these psychological origins cannot track moral truth, leading to the conclusion that the moral judgments are unreliable. I argue that psychological debunking arguments are vulnerable to a regress challenge, because the theoretical claim that ‘such-and-such psychological process is not moral-truth-tracking’ relies upon moral judgments. We must then ask about the psychological origins of these judgments, and then make a further evaluative judgment about these psychological origins… and so on. This chain of empirical and evaluative claims may continue indefinitely and, I will argue, proponents of the debunking argument are in a dialectical position where they may not simply call a halt to the process. Hence, their argument cannot terminate, and its debunking conclusion cannot be upheld.

Keywords

Moral judgment Psychological debunking Regress argument Moral psychology 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NYU Center for BioethicsNew YorkUSA

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