RATIO: Vol. 32, No. 4, December 2019.
Evolutionary debunking arguments aim to undercut the epistemological status of our evaluative beliefs on the basis of the genesis of our belief-forming tendencies. This paper addresses the issue of whether responses to these arguments must be question-begging. It argues for a pragmatic understanding of question-beggingness, according to which whether an argument is questionbegging depends on the argumentative context. After laying out the debunking argument, the paper considers a variety of responses. It asks whether metaethical responses, such as Sharon Street's response that relies on a version of antirealism, can avoid begging the question. It argues that so-called thirdfactor responses, which rely on substantive evaluative views, are not questionbegging in all contexts. Similarly, it argues, the author's own quasi-tracking response is not question-begging in all contexts. Finally, the paper asks whether responses to the debunking argument can avoid begging the question against someone who is convinced at the outset that the argument is sound.
Objectivist Conditions for Defeat and Evolutionary Debunking Arguments, MICHAEL KLENK
The author makes a case for distinguishing clearly between subjective and objective accounts of undercutting defeat and for rejecting a hybrid view that takes both subjective and objective elements to be relevant for whether or not a belief is defeated. Moderate subjectivists claim that taking a belief to be defeated is sufficient for the belief to be defeated; subjectivist idealists add that if an idealized agent takes a belief to be defeated then the belief is defeated. Subjectivist idealism evades some of the objections leveled against moderate subjectivism but can be shown to yield inconsistent results in some cases. Both subjectivisms should be rejected. We should be objectivists regarding undercutting defeat. This requirement, however, is likely to be problematic for a popular interpretation of evolutionary debunking arguments in metaethics as it can be shown that existing objectivist accounts of defeat do not support such arguments. The author ends by discussing the constraints of developing such an account.
Striking Coincidences: How Realists Should Reason about Them, JEROEN HOPSTER
Many metaethicists assume that our normative judgments are both by and large true and the product of causal forces. In other words, many metaethicists assume that the set of normative judgments that causal forces have led us to make largely coincides with the set of true normative judgments. How should we explain this coincidence? This is what Sharon Street calls the practical/theoretical puzzle. Some metaethicists can easily solve this puzzle, but not all of them can, Street argues; she takes the puzzle to constitute a specific challenge for normative realism. This article elucidates Street's puzzle and outline possible solutions to it, framed in terms of a general strategy for reasoning about coincidences. The author argues that the success of Street's challenge crucially depends on how we set the reference class of normative judgments that we could have endorsed, assuming realism. The author concludes that while the practical/theoretical puzzle falls short of posing a general challenge for normative realism, it can be successful as a selective challenge for specific realist views.
Darwinizing Debunking Arguments, PAUL SHELDON DAVIES
To Darwinize a debunking argument is to broaden and thereby strengthen it in ways inspired by Charles Darwin. It is to employ Darwinian strategies that converge on the conclusion that certain putative phenomena--the reality of stance-independent moral properties, for instance--are illusory or epistemically problematic for animals like us. The aim of this essay is to defend one such strategy and illustrate its power relative to most evolutionary debunking arguments currently on offer.
What Can Debunking do for Us (Sceptics and Nihilists)? JONAS OLSON
Debunking arguments in metaethics are often presented as particularly challenging for nonnaturalistic versions of moral realism. The first aim of this paper is to explore and defend a response on behalf of nonnaturalism. The second aim of the paper is to argue that although nonnaturalism's response is satisfactory, this does not mean that debunking arguments are metaethically uninteresting. They have a limited and indirect role to play in the exchange between nonnaturalists and moral error theorists. In the end, debunking arguments do less for skeptics and nihilists than what is commonly thought, but not nothing.
The Dynamics of Moral Progress, JULIA HERMANN
Assuming that there is moral progress, and assuming that the abolition of slavery is an example of it, how does moral progress occur? Is it mainly driven by specific individuals who have gained new moral insights, or by changes in the socioeconomic and epistemic conditions in which agents morally judge the norms and practices of their society, and act upon these judgements? This paper argues that moral progress is a complex process in which changes at the level of belief and changes at the level of institutions and social practices are deeply intertwined, and that changes in the socioeconomic and epistemic conditions of moral agency constitute the main motor of moral progress. The author argues a view of moral progress by way of grappling with Michelle Moody-Adams's prominent philosophical account of it. This view is less intellectualistic and individualistic than hers, does not presuppose metaethical moral realism, and blurs her distinction between moral progress in beliefs and moral progress in social practices. The author points out the limits of humans to progress morally, which are partly grounded in our evolutionary history, and argues that moral progress is always of a local nature.
Debunking Leftward Progress, MICHAEL HUEMER
In earlier work, the author argued that observed changes in moral values over human history are best explained as cognitive progress: societies tend over the long term to move closer to the objective moral truth. It is also true that, in recent decades, liberal democracies have moved strongly in the direction of greater government regulation and wealth redistribution. Does this mean that extensive regulation and redistribution are objectively good? The author argues that the answer is no; these recent trends are importantly different from earlier examples of moral progress in ways that enable them to be satisfyingly explained without adverting to objective moral correctness.
Ethical Objectivity: The Test of Time, CARLA BAGNOLI
According to many, evolutionary accounts of ethics undermine the prospects of its objective foundation. By contrast, this paper argues that such evolutionary accounts discredit only the absolutist construal of moral truths as timeless but support other conceptions of objectivity as tested by time. Insofar as Kantian constructivism addresses the problem of ethical objectivity from the standpoint of temporal rational agents, it is not vulnerable to debunking arguments based on evolutionary explanations. In fact, recent work on evolutionary accounts of reasoning and inferences not only coheres with but it also reinforces the constructivist conception of practical reason as a problemsolving cooperative device apt to temporal and interdependent rational agents.
The Argument from Agreement: How Universal Values Undermine Moral Realism, HANNO SAUER
The most popular argument against moral realism is the argument from disagreement: if there are mind-independent moral facts, then we would not expect to find as much moral disagreement as we do; therefore, moral realism is false. This article develops the flipside of this argument. According to this argument from agreement, we would expect to find lots of moral disagreement if there were mind-independent moral facts. But we do not, in fact, find much moral disagreement; therefore, moral realism is false. The author defends the argument, explains the empirical evidence that supports it, and shows what makes this challenge novel and powerful.
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|Title Annotation:||CURRENT PERIODICAL ARTICLES: PHILOSOPHICAL ABSTRACTS|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Author abstract|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2019|
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