Unless otherwise stated, Post-Kantian European Philosophy Research Group seminars take place on Tuesdays, 5:30–7:30pm in Room S0.11 (ground floor of Social Studies). All welcome. For further information, please contact tbc
PG Work in Progress Seminar
This week's PG WiP Seminar will be led by Chris Hall (MA)
Title: "Debunker or Global Skeptic: Considering the Distinctiveness of Evolutionary Debunking Arguments "
Thursday March 2nd 2023
5pm in S2.77 and on TeamsLink opens in a new window.
For the moral realist, both evolutionary debunking arguments and global skepticism present a challenge to the possibility of moral knowledge. Debunkers typically see their challenge as distinct from broader forms of skepticism, the thought being that they target moral knowledge specifically and depend on a particular empirical claim about the evolutionary origins of our moral beliefs. The importance of this distinctiveness is illustrated by the fact that a common response to the debunker is to suggest that the argument leads to global skepticism. In this paper, I examine the relationship between evolutionary debunking arguments and global skepticism. I argue that it is essential to the debunker’s project to avoid committing to a broader skepticism, and consider various ways in which this commitment can occur. I claim that avoiding this requires formulating the debunking argument in a specific way. A number of evolutionary debunking arguments fall short on this front. To illustrate the problem, I consider a recent paper from Isserow (2019) which presents an evolutionary debunking argument based on our apparent ignorance of how evolution shaped our moral beliefs. On my account, Isserow’s argument leads to global skepticism. Moreover, Isserow’s argument is instructive when considering both whether other debunking arguments do the same and how the problem can be avoided.