Ethics 122 (2):313-340 (2012)

Justin Clarke-Doane
Columbia University
It is commonly suggested that evolutionary considerations generate an epistemological challenge for moral realism. At first approximation, the challenge for the moral realist is to explain our having many true moral beliefs, given that those beliefs are the products of evolutionary forces that would be indifferent to the moral truth. An important question surrounding this challenge is the extent to which it generalizes. In particular, it is of interest whether the Evolutionary Challenge for moral realism is equally a challenge for mathematical realism. It is widely thought not to be. In this paper, I argue that the Evolutionary Challenge for moral realism is equally a challenge for mathematical realism. Along the way, I substantially clarify the Evolutionary Challenge, discuss its relation to more familiar epistemological challenges, and broach the problem of moral disagreement. The paper should be of interest to ethicists because it places pressure on anyone who rejects moral realism on the basis of the Evolutionary Challenge to reject mathematical realism as well. And the paper should be of interest to philosophers of mathematics because it presents a new epistemological challenge for mathematical realism that bears, I argue, no simple relation to Paul Benacerraf's familiar challenge.
Keywords ethics  mathematics  evolution  benacerraf  street  joyce  field  reliability  evolutionary debunking  disagreement
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/663231
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,163
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Evolutionary Debunking of Moral Realism.Katia Vavova - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (2):104-116.
Modal Security.Justin Clarke-Doane & Dan Baras - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (1):162-183.

View all 84 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Could Evolution Explain Our Reliability About Logic?Joshua Schechter - 2013 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology 4. pp. 214.
Evolutionary Moral Realism.John Collier & Michael Stingl - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (3):218-226.
Crossing the Milvian Bridge: When Do Evolutionary Explanations of Belief Debunk Belief?Paul E. Griffiths & John S. Wilkins - 2015 - In Phillip R. Sloan, Gerald McKenny & Kathleen Eggleson (eds.), Darwin in the Twenty-First Century: Nature, Humanity, and God. University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 201-231.
The Prospects for Evolutionary Ethics Today.Neil Levy - 2010 - EurAmerica 40 (3):529-571.
Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Guy Kahane - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):103-125.


Added to PP index

Total views
528 ( #16,617 of 2,507,014 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
11 ( #68,194 of 2,507,014 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes