Philosophy Lunchtime Talks

Join us for an installment of our philosophy lunchtime talk series featuring a presentation by Paul Rezkalla.  

Title: Evolutionary Contingency and Attributive Goodness

Abstract: In this paper, I show that the evolutionary contingency challenge against moral realism can be read both metaphysically and epistemically. After distinguishing between these two distinct challenges I disarm the metaphysical challenge (MC) by showing that it assumes a predicative notion of goodness a la Peter Geach. Geach argues that the adjective "good" only makes sense attributively--that is, it makes no sense to ask whether anything is good simpliciter (predicatively) rather sensible talk of goodness assumes a concept or comparison class of the kind of thing to which goodness is attributed. In the same way that a large flea is still smaller than a small elephant, so too is meaningful talk of goodness confined to the concepts to which it is attributed, i.e. a good car is not good in the same sense that a good pencil is good. My aim is not to defend that goodness is essentially attributive, rather I merely want to show that the realist can deflect the MC if she treats goodness attributively in the allegedly problematic cases raised by the skeptic. Finally, I respond to the objection that the attributive goodness account cannot adequately deal with cases of cannibalism, infanticide, and forcible copulation in other species by showing that the capacity to consent creates a new comparison class for goodness-attribution

Friday, November 6 at 12:20pm to 1:10pm

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Colleges, College of Arts and Sciences, Philosophy

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