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Title: Evolutionary Debunking of Normative Realism. Not a Real Threat for Realists
Authors: Pellegrino, Gianfranco
Keywords: Evolutionnormative realismdebunking argumentsuperveniencejustificationtruth
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Gianfranco Pellegrino, “Evolutionary Debunking of Normative Realism. Not a Real Threat for Realists”, in "Etica & Politica / Ethics and Politics, (2017) XIX/2", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2017, pp. 105-140
A debunking argument has been recently levelled against normative realism. According to this line of reasoning, most of our normative beliefs have been strongly influenced by evolutionary forces. As evolution is a non-truth-tracking process, this influence may lead our normative beliefs off track. If so, normative realists need to provide an explanation of how it is possible that our normative beliefs track stance-independent truth, or of how their falsity could be spotted, when evolution powerfully drives us to certain judgments. The article assesses this argument, and tries to show that it is not a real threat to normative realists. Two arguments are employed. First, it is not the case that most of our normative beliefs are evolution-driven. There are relevant normative views – for instance, a principle of impartiality – which are quite recalcitrant to evolutionary explanations. Second, if the supervenience of normative on the non-normative holds, then most of our current normative beliefs track truth in the actual world and in the closest possible worlds. As a consequence, the debunking argument amounts either to the trivial remark that the truth of few beliefs is unsafe, or to a standard sceptical argument focusing on the merely logical possibility of epistemic errors.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2017) XIX/2

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