Quantificational Problems and Epistemic Defects: Disagreeing with our Counterfactual Selves
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Since the publication of A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value, in which Sharon Street structures an Evolutionary Debunking Argument as a dilemma for the moral realist, several attempts have been made to undermine her argument. One of such attempts is recently proposed by Louise Hanson. She claims that the Evolutionary Debunking Arguments use an ambiguity between two distinct readings of the claim in their argumentation: a quantificational and a predicative reading. The quantificational reading is probably true, but has no epistemic consequences, the predicative reading does have epistemic consequences, but is probably false. Once this distinction becomes clear, she argues, the Evolutionary Debunking Arguments lose their sting. I will argue that the quantificational reading does pose an epistemic problem to moral realism, as is shown by Bogardus’s Argument from Symmetry: counterfactual epistemic peer disagreement undermines our justifications of our moral beliefs. Three objections can be made: one can either deny that the counterfactual individuals would be our epistemic peers, deny that peer disagreement poses an epistemic problem, or deny that possible peer disagreement poses an epistemic problem. I will argue that one cannot reasonably accept the first objection if one wants to hold on to moral realism, that the second objection misinterprets peer interaction and that the third objection does not affect Bogardus’s counterfactual selves. Accepting the quantificational reading should lead us to doubt the justification of our moral beliefs.