Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 7, pp 1799–1817 | Cite as

Do evolutionary debunking arguments rest on a mistake about evolutionary explanations?

Article

Abstract

Many moral philosophers accept the Debunking Thesis, according to which facts about natural selection provide debunking explanations for certain of our moral beliefs. I argue that philosophers who accept the Debunking Thesis beg important questions in the philosophy of biology. They assume that past selection can explain why you or I hold certain of the moral beliefs we do. A position advanced by many prominent philosophers of biology implies that this assumption is false. According to the Negative View, natural selection cannot explain the traits of individuals. Hence, facts about past selection cannot provide debunking explanations for any of our moral beliefs. The aim of this paper is to explore the conflict between the Debunking Thesis and the Negative View.

Keywords

Moral epistemology Philosophy of biology Evolutionary debunking arguments Natural selection 

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jesus CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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