Description of Workshop
Diego Machuca has secured a contract with Routledge to edit and publish a volume called Evolutionary Debunking Arguments in Philosophy. I asked contributors to the volume if they’d like to workshop their papers. Interested contributors were then organized into the below schedule. Sessions will be 50 minutes, with 25-30 minute presentations and 20-25 minute q&a. We’ll have 5-10 minute breaks in between sessions.
Please contact me (Andrew Moon) at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending. I will send everybody a zoom link shortly before the workshop begins. This website will be continually updated with more titles and abstracts as they come in.
February 12 (United States Eastern Standard Time)
Michael Klenk “Evolution and Ability”
Abstract: Two central questions in the debate surrounding evolutionary debunking arguments are whether, and on what epistemic grounds, evolutionary information defeats the justification of all or some moral beliefs. I previously argued that (evolutionary) defeat might succeed if new data shows that our moral beliefs are not sufficiently creditable to our cognitive abilities (the ‘achievement conception of defeat’). This chapter aims to evaluate whether evolutionary considerations indicate any such thing. First, I briefly recap the argument that leads to this question. Second, I specify the constraints on answering the questions. Notably, whether evolutionary considerations can indict the credit-ability of our moral beliefs without indicting their modal security. Third, I briefly consider and reject the view, for present purposes, that evolution may defeat our abilities. Finally, I will consider several interpretations of the claim that ‘new information E shows that the truth of S’s belief that p is not sufficiently creditable to S’s cognitive abilities.’
At this early stage of the paper, I hope to identify and present to you for discussion some sensible interpretations of the ‘credit’ claim. The interest of the argument overall will depend on the truth of the achievement conception of defeat. My aim for this paper is not to defend it but to take that for granted and explore the implications.
Andrew Moon, “How To Properly Deflect a Debunking Argument”
Abstract: Although many think that some circular beliefs are permissible, most will balk at saying that just any old circular belief can permissibly be used to respond to a debunking argument; we can’t be question-begging in just any circumstance. There are both good and bad question-begging ways to deflect debunking arguments. The question is how to tell the good ones from the bad, and not many have offered a theory for how to make this distinction. Hence, my aim will be to present and defend a theory for how one can properly respond to debunking arguments in a question-begging way.
Sharon Berry, “Mathematical Evolutionary Debunking Arguments in Context”
Abstract: In this talk I will advocate an informal coincidence avoidance based approach to clarifying access worries and evolutionary debunking arguments in response to concerns raised by Clarke-Doane and Enoch. I’ll note that facts about contemporary mathematical practice together with certain recent proposals about knowledge of logical coherence promise to block EDAs about mathematics — at least if certain basic logical knowledge can be presumed. Finally, I’ll distinguish two possible EDAs regarding basic logical knowledge and sketch strategies for answering each.
February 13 (United States Eastern Standard Time)
Christos Kyriacou, “Debunking, Theoretical Indispensability and Authoritative Rationality”
Abstract: I argue that debunking arguments tacitly rely on certain basic norms of epistemic rationality that seem theoretically indispensable for any rational argument. I then briefly suggest that these theoretically indispensable epistemic rationality norms seem irreducible to natural norms (psychological and social norms), at least if we are to respect their binding normative authority.
I conclude that this leaves the debunking project in a bind. On the one hand, debunking arguments seem to cohere with and rely on a broadly naturalistic metaphysics but, on the other hand, it seems that it cannot plausibly rely on naturalistic metaphysics to account for the epistemic rationality of its own argument – at least not on the strong reductionist variety of naturalism. This indicates that debunking arguments seem to go too far when they imply (or even explicitly deny) that we have good reason to believe basic epistemic rationality norms. Finally, I briefly respond to some objections.
Joshua Thurow, “Reasons, Rationalization, and Religion”
Abstract: We sometimes debunk peoples’ beliefs by contending that their supposed reasons are in fact rationalizations. Many religious people and communities have put forward reasons in favor of their religious beliefs; might these reasons in fact be rationalizations? Derek Leben has argued that we have reason to think they are and that, as a result, religious beliefs apparently based on such reasons are debunked. Leben’s argument, if sound, would also undermine one prominent reply to a more general CSR-based debunking argument, which relies on the claim that believers may well have good reasons to support their beliefs. I shall unpack the rationalization-based debunking argument—discussing how and why evidence of rationalization can undermine belief. I argue that two features of many religious beliefs make it hard for charges of rationalization to produce any substantial undermining: (i) the strong role of testimony and communal trust in religious belief, which links the believer to reasons shared in their community, and (ii) special content of some religious beliefs that, if true, would either reduce or flip the irrelevance of the otherwise irrelevant influences that typically lie beneath rationalization.
Abstract: In the philosophical literature on color, one often encounters arguments that are prima facie similar to moral and mathematical debunking arguments. Where the moral and mathematical arguments are usually targeted at moral and mathematical non-reductive realism, respectively, the color arguments are targeted at a view known is ‘color primitivism’, which is, at first glance anyway, just non-reductive realism about colors. In this talk, we’ll briefly consider four different versions of the debunking argument against color primitivism: (1) an argument that rests on a modalist principle of epistemic defeat and hypotheses about the proximate causes of color perceptions, (2) an argument that rests on an explanationist principle of epistemic defeat and hypotheses about the proximate causes of color perceptions, (3) an argument that rests on a modalist principle of epistemic defeat and hypotheses about the distal (evolutionary) causes of color perceptions, and (4) an argument that rests on an explanationist principle of epistemic defeat and hypotheses about the distal (evolutionary) causes of color perceptions. In each case, we will explore what resources the color primitivist might have for deflecting the argument.