Debunking Arguments from Insensitivity

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Tennessee

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.

  • Becker K. (2008). Epistemology Modalized. New York: Routledge.

  • Becker K. (2012). “Methods and How to Individuate Them.” In Becker and Black (2012), 8198.

  • Becker K. , and Black T. (eds.), (2012). The Sensitivity Principle in Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Bedke M. (2014). “No Coincidence?” In Shafer-Landau (2014), 103125.

  • Blackburn S. (1993). Essays in Quasi-Realism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Blackburn S. (Forthcoming). “Justification and Explanation in Mathematics and Morality.” In Shafer-Landau R. (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clarke-Doane J. (2012). “Morality and Mathematics: The Evolutionary Challenge,” Ethics 122: 313340.

  • Clarke-Doane J. (Forthcoming). “Justification and Explanation in Mathematics and Morality.” In Shafer-Landau R. (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Copp D. , and Zimmerman D. , (eds.). (1984). Morality, Reason, and Truth. Totowa, nj: Rowman and Allanheld.

  • Feinberg J. and Shafer-Landau R. , (eds.). (2013). Reason and Responsibility. 15th ed. Boston, ma: Wadsworth.

  • Goldberg S. , (ed.). (2007). Internalism and Externalism in Semantics and Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Goldberg S. (2012). “Sensitivity from Others.” In Becker and Black (2012), 4365.

  • Goldman A. (1986). Epistemology and Cognition. Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press.

  • Harman G. (1977). The Nature of Morality. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Henderson D. , and Horgan T. . (2007). “Some Ins and Outs of Transglobal Reliabilism.” In Goldberg (2007), 100130.

  • Hieke A. , and Leitbeg H. (eds.), (2009). Reduction, Abstraction, and Analysis. Ontos Verlag.

  • Hills A. (2009). “Supervenience and Moral Realism.” In Hieke and Leitbeg (2009), 163177.

  • Huemer M. (2005). Ethical Intuitionism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Joyce R. (2001). The Myth of Morality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Joyce R. (2007). The Evolution of Morality, Cambridge, ma: mit Press.

  • Joyce R. (2013). “The Evolutionary Debunking of Morality.” In Feinberg and Shafer-Landau (2013), 527534.

  • Leiter B. (2001). “Moral Facts and Best Explanations,” Social Philosophy and Policy 18: 79101.

  • Luper-Foy S. (ed.). (1987). The Possibility of Knowledge: Nozick and His Critics. Totowa, nj: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • Mackie J.L. (1977). Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. New York: Penguin.

  • Majors B. (2007). “Moral Explanation,” Philosophy Compass 2: 115.

  • McGrath S. (2009). “The Puzzle of Pure Moral Deference,” Philosophical Perspectives 23: 321344.

  • Mogensen A. (2014). “Evolutionary Debunking Arguments in Ethics.” D. Phil Thesis. University of Oxford.

    • Export Citation
  • Nichols S. (2004). Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Nozick R. (1981). Philosophical Explanations. Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press.

  • Pollock J. (1976). Subjunctive Reasoning. Reidel: Dordrecht.

  • Railton P. (1985). “Moral Realism,” Philosophical Review 95: 163207.

  • Ridge M. (2007). “Anti-reductionism and Supervenience,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 4: 330348.

  • Ridge M. (2008). “Moral Non-Naturalism.” In Zalta E.N. (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition).

  • Ruse M. (1986). Taking Darwin Seriously. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  • Shafer-Landau R. (2003). Moral Realism: A Defence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Shafer-Landau R. (ed.). (2014). Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 9. Clarendon: Oxford University Press.

  • Sinnott-Armstrong W. (2006). Moral Skepticisms . New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

  • Sommers T. , and Rosenberg A. . (2003). “Darwin’s Nihilistic Idea: Evolution and the Meaninglessness of Life,” Biology and Philosophy 18: 653668.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sperber D. (1996). Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach. Cambridge, ma: Blackwell.

  • Street S. (2006). “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value,” Philosophical Studies 127: 109166.

  • Sturgeon Nicholas . (1984). “Moral Explanations.” In Copp and Zimmerman (1984), 4978.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 138 85 4
Full Text Views 32 7 0
PDF Downloads 18 7 0