Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Beyond EvolutionHuman Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Anthony O'Hear

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198250045.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 22 November 2017

Evolutionary Epistemology

Evolutionary Epistemology

Chapter:
(p.50) 4 Evolutionary Epistemology
Source:
Beyond Evolution
Author(s):

Anthony O'Hear (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198250045.003.0004

There is a distinction between the true—what we ought to believe—and the useful—what would be useful to believe. Our cognitive powers are the product of evolutionary development and natural selection is responsive to what is useful rather than to what is true. This can lead us, for good evolutionary reasons, to err on the side of caution with respect to toxicity of possible foods, e.g.—there can be beneficial false beliefs. Furthermore, Peter Munz has pointed out that idiosyncratic community‐wide false beliefs can have high utility from the point of view of social bonding and integration. Plato, Hayek, and Roger Scruton have also questioned the social value of rationality. As self‐conscious beings, we do seem to be concerned with truth as well as the merely useful. However, it remains open whether the search for truth is long‐term beneficial.

Keywords:   evolution, false but valuable beliefs, Hayek, Munz, Plato, truth, utility, value of rationality

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .