Debunking Arguments from Insensitivity

in International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
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Heightened awareness of the origins of our moral judgments pushes many in the direction of moral skepticism, in the direction of thinking we are unjustified in holding our moral judgments on a realist understanding of the moral truths. A classic debunking argument fleshes out this worry: the best explanation of our moral judgments does not appeal to their truth, so we are unjustified in holding our moral judgments. But it is unclear how to get from the explanatory premise to the debunking conclusion. This paper shows how to get from here to there by way of epistemic insensitivity. First, we reconstruct Richard Joyce’s evolutionary debunking argument from insensitivity. Second, we raise epistemological difficulties for Joyce’s argument. Third, we develop and defend a new debunking argument from insensitivity.

Debunking Arguments from Insensitivity

in International Journal for the Study of Skepticism



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Harman (1977). See also Railton (1985) for the case that some moral truths best explain some non-moral phenomena (e.g. moral truths regarding injustice partly best explain the social tendency to revolt).


See Leiter (2001) Sommers and Rosenberg (2003) and Joyce (2001: Ch. 6; 2007: Ch. 6).


For recent discussion see Becker (2012).


See Henderson and Horgan (2007) and Becker (2008) on the epistemic importance of actual-plus-nearby-worlds process reliability.


For good discussion see Becker (2008).


See e.g. Sperber (1996) and Nichols (2004).


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