A defence of the evolutionary debunking argument

Ip, Man Him (2021). A defence of the evolutionary debunking argument. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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In this thesis, I will explore the epistemological evolutionary debunking arguments in meta-ethics (EDA). I will defend these arguments by accomplishing two tasks: (1) I will offer the best (i.e., most detailed and precise) way to understand the EDA and (2) I will also respond to two strongest objections to the EDA.

Firstly, in Part I of this thesis, I will offer my account of how the EDA should be best formulated. I will start from how evolution has significantly influenced our moral beliefs. I will then explain why, due to their evolutionary origin, our moral beliefs are not tracking the moral truth reliably. Furthermore, I will argue that the fact that our moral beliefs are not tracking the moral truth also provides an undercutting and a higher-order defeater for those beliefs. As a result, I will conclude that the epistemic status of our moral beliefs is undermined because of these two kinds of defeaters.

Secondly, in Part II of this thesis, I will turn my attention to the two strongest objections to the EDA – the Conceptual Truth Objection and the Third Factor Objection. I will first offer two responses to the Conceptual Truth Objection and, based on these two responses, I will argue that the Conceptual Truth Objection fails as a challenge to the EDA. I will then also argue that there currently doesn’t exist an acceptable version of the Third Factor Objection and it is also unlikely that such a version could be constructed in the future. I will finally conclude that both objections are problematic and they are thus unable to give us reason to doubt the EDA.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11250


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