Evolution and error theory

Social Science Information 49 (2):165-194 (2010)


Error theorists argue that there is a fundamental mistake, an error of some kind, at the heart of commonsense morality. They have drawn on evolutionary theory to support some of their claims. This article looks at four different models of evolution and assesses what implications can be drawn from them concerning commonsense morality and the claims of the error theorists Mackie, Ruse and Joyce. The author first spells out the main points of error theory, then discusses how recent proponents of error theory have attempted to join error theory about ethics with an evolutionary perspective. Finally, to assess their claims, the author examines what the models of evolution put forward by Darwin, Dawkins, Gould and Haught imply about error theory in ethics.

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References found in this work

Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong.Fred Feldman & J. L. Mackie - 1979 - Philosophical Review 88 (1):134.
The Myth of Morality.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2004 - Mind 113 (452):760-763.
Moral Realism and the Sceptical Arguments From Disagreement and Queerness.David O. Brink - 1984 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (2):111 – 125.
Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History.Stephen Jay Gould - 1978 - Journal of the History of Biology 11 (2):399-400.
Darwinian Ethics and Error.Richard Joyce - 2000 - Biology and Philosophy 15 (5):713-732.

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