Debunking and Dispensability

Justin Clarke-Doane

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Abstract

In his précis of a recent book, Richard Joyce writes, ‘My contention…is that…any epistemological benefit-of-the-doubt that might have been extended to moral beliefs…will be neutralized by the availability of an empirically confirmed moral genealogy that nowhere…presupposes their truth’. Such reasoning—falling under the heading ‘Genealogical Debunking Arguments’—is now commonplace. But how might ‘the availability of an empirically confirmed moral genealogy that nowhere…presupposes’ the truth of our moral beliefs ‘neutralize’ whatever ‘epistemological benefit-of-the-doubt that might have been extended to’ them? In this chapter, it is argued that there appears to be no satisfactory answer to this question. The problem is quite general, applying to all arguments with the structure of Genealogical Debunking Arguments aimed at realism about a domain. The Benacerraf–Field Challenge for mathematical Platonism affords an important special case.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExplanation in Ethics and Mathematics
Subtitle of host publicationDebunking and Dispensability
EditorsUri D. Leibowitz, Neil Sinclair
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages23-36
Number of pages14
Edition1st
ISBN (Print)9780198778592
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • debunking
  • realism
  • defeat
  • Benacerraf
  • Street
  • indispensability
  • ethics
  • moral realism
  • Platonism

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