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Challenges to Moral and Religious BeliefDisagreement and Evolution$
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Michael Bergmann and Patrick Kain

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669776.001.0001

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Why There is No Darwinian Dilemma for Ethical Realism

Why There is No Darwinian Dilemma for Ethical Realism

Chapter:
(p.237) 12 Why There is No Darwinian Dilemma for Ethical Realism
Source:
Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief
Author(s):

William J. FitzPatrick

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669776.003.0013

This chapter provides a realist response to Street’s ‘Darwinian Dilemma’ and to evolutionary debunking arguments more generally, showing that there is in fact no such dilemma for ethical realism and that the debunking arguments fail. Nothing in evolutionary biology supports the debunkers’ strong explanatory claims about the etiology of our moral beliefs, unless those arguments are supplemented by philosophical claims that beg the question against realism from the start. At most, the debunking arguments pose an open challenge to realists to provide an alternative account of how we have come to hold some of our moral beliefs that constitute moral knowledge, without running afoul of good science. Finally, Enoch’s alternative realist approach to answering debunking arguments — accepting debunkers’ explanatory claims and then appealing to a ‘pre-established harmony’ between moral beliefs and facts, brought about by some ‘third factor’ — is argued to be unsatisfactory.

Keywords:   evolution, ethical/moral realism, debunking, realism, sharon street, darwinian dilemma, enoch, evolutionary debunking

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