Global Evolutionary Debunking in Ethics: An Assessment
Herman Philipse (Utrecht University)

August 7, 2014, 12:15pm - 2:15pm
Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

Old Physics G16 (Jim Potter Room)
Parkville Campus

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In the wake of Sidgwick and Moore, most philosophers seemed to agree that “Evolution has very little indeed to say to Ethics” (Moore 1903: 109). In recent years, however, so-called evolutionary debunking arguments (“EDAs”) have become popular among moral philosophers. According to some, evolutionary explanations of our moral intuitions are “highly significant for normative ethics” (Singer 2005: 343). In this talk, evolutionary debunking arguments in (meta-) ethics are classified, and the soundness of two global ones is assessed. I argue that (a) global evolutionary debunking arguments in support of a moral error theory must be mistaken because of what I call the parasiticity of falsehood; and that (b) the evolutionary debunking of robust meta-ethical realism is convincing if and only if realists endorse what I call the independence thesis.

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