Debunking and Deontology
Dr Richard Rowland (Australian Catholic University), Richard Rowland (Princeton University)

August 16, 2017, 11:30am - 1:30pm
Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

Meeting Room 651, Arts West Building, 6th Floor North
University of Melbourne
Melbourne 3010
Australia

Organisers:

Holly Lawford-Smith
University of Melbourne

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Abstract:

Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer argue that evolutionary considerations debunk egoist and partialist alternatives to utilitarianism. In response Guy Kahane argues that (a) if evolutionary considerations debunk egoist and partialist alternatives to utilitarianism, evolutionary considerations also debunk utilitarianism. And Kahane argues that (b) evolutionary debunking arguments that attempt to undermine only some ethical views rather than all ethical views are doomed to fail because if evolutionary considerations undermine some ethical views, they undermine all ethical views. I argue that Kahane is mistaken about (b) because evolutionary considerations do not undermine a certain kind of deontological ethical view. But Kahane is correct about (a), so we can argue for this particular deontological view on the basis that evolutionary considerations undermine egoist and partialist alternatives to utilitarianism as well as utilitarianism but not this particular form of deontology. So, de Lazari-Radek and Singer are mistaken that evolutionary considerations can be utilized to argue in favour of utilitarianism; in contrast evolutionary considerations can be utilized to argue in favour of a particular form of deontology.

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