Chapter

The Gap Opens: Evolution and our Capacity for Moral Knowledge

Angus Ritchie

in From Morality to Metaphysics

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652518
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745850 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199652518.003.0003
The Gap Opens: Evolution and our Capacity for Moral Knowledge

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This chapter makes a prima facie case for thinking all secular moral theories which are ‘sufficiently’ objectivist will also generate an ‘explanatory gap’. The chapter begins with a discussion of natural selection and its role in explaining human cognitive capacities. It argues that evolutionary theory may well be able to account for human acquisition of that accurate beliefs about key features of physical reality and the principles of theoretical reasoning — even if these are taken take to exist independently of the sentiments, beliefs or social conventions of the perceiver. It goes on to claim that in the case of evaluative beliefs that the survival value and the accuracy of beliefs seem to come apart, creating the ‘explanatory gap’.

Keywords: evolution; justification; perception; theoretical reasoning; moral knowledge; dawkins; dworkin; realism

Chapter.  10500 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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