A Dilemma for Evolutionary Debunking Arguments

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Evolutionary debunkers claim that evolutionary explanations of moral phenomena lead to sceptical conclusions. The aim of this paper is to show that even if we grant debunkers the speculative claims that evolution provides the best explanation of moral phenomena and that there are no other moral phenomena for which moral facts/properties are indispensable, the sceptical conclusions debunkers seek to establish still do not follow. The problem for debunkers is to link the empirical explanatory claim to the normative conclusion that moral beliefs are unjustified. The paper argues that debunkers face a dilemma, and that neither of the two options available to them supports the sceptical (normative) conclusions for which they aim. Consequently, it is claimed, the dialectical force of evolutionary debunking arguments is, at best, exceedingly weak.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-69
Number of pages25
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Debunking
  • Error theory
  • Evolution
  • Scepticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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