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Title: Evolutionary ethics without the error : how care ethics can vindicate moral realism
Author: Walsh, Joseph Paul
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2013
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In this thesis I defend a form of moral realism against Richard Joyce's evolutionary argument for an error theory. I explain how evolutionary data can be used to explain human behaviour, ultimately endorsing a developmental systems perspective on the evolution of traits. I argue that evolutionary theories of ethics, developmentally conceived, are best demarcated from non-evolutionary ethical theories by appealing to the distinction between moral philosophy and moral psychology. I then set out Joyce's argument for an error theory, and in so doing respond to his claim that moral properties cannot be successfully naturalised. I then consider different naturalistic approaches to moral realism, assessing whether these approaches successfully meet Joyce's sceptical challenge. I look first at Philippa Foot's neo-Aristotelian approach to virtue ethics, arguing that her position fails because of her commitment to eudaimonism, and to a welfarist conception offunction. I then consider Jesse Prinz's realist sentimentalism. This too, I argue, fails to constitute a convincing reply to Joyce, owing to internal inconsistencies, and to the failure of Prinz's theory to meet certain criteria intuitively constitutive of moral realism. Finally, I argue that a successful realist response to Joyce can be made by developing an evolutionary account of care ethics. I begin to develop such an account in the final chapter of the thesis, showing how the theory which I sketch meets each of the aspects of Joyce's argument for an error theory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Richard Joyce