Philosophical Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


David Baggett


Epistemology, Ethics, Evolution, Naturalism, Philosophy, Religion


Ethics and Political Philosophy | Philosophy | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Natural selection seems to offer a compelling case for the development of evaluative judgments independent of evaluative facts. If such a case can be made, then how do moral judgments correlate to moral facts? It seems that there would be no tight connection from judgments to truth and moral judgments would be unwarranted. Gilbert Harman realized the implications of a probable non-moral genealogy. Richard Joyce goes on to provide a probable non-moral genealogy that would epistemically undermine moral judgments as Harman thought. Joyce argues that in a naturalistic world natural selection can account for moral judgments, but that the truth of those judgments play no explanatory role and seem to be superfluous. If there are such moral facts to be known does man need a moral faculty that J. L. Mackie says is "queer" to have arisen in a purely naturalistic world? To posit such a faculty and the off chance that moral judgments happen to correlate to moral facts in a naturalistic world would seem to be the result of either a miracle or a brute fact. Both the former hypotheses seem to lack persuasiveness and plausibility, but is there a better explanation? Is there a better explanation to vindicate moral judgments? This paper explores the possible vindication of moral judgments through the idea that it seems moral facts are conducive to survival and replication: just as the mind is able to arrive at normative claims about mathematics so too with morality. So, one does not need an additional faculty but that a moral faculty is already equipped in the mind. It is this idea that seems to be the avenue to pursue a vindication of moral judgments.