This is a quick post concerning evolution and objective morality. From time to time, it is alleged that evolution is responsible for the formation of our shared belief in objective moral values, and hence objective moral values are false. They are merely constructs of adaptation for survival. So, does evolution falsify objective morality? I don’t think so.
First, as is regularly pointed out, this is just an example of the genetic fallacy. That is to say it is fallacious to infer because of how a belief originated it is therefore false. A classic example would be the proponent of socialism scolding the proponent of democracy thus: “You only think democracy is the best form of government because you were raised in one!” One would, and hardly should, think democracy is therefore false. So it is with evolution. Even if evolution is responsible for our shared belief in objective morality, we have no grounds to conclude it is false.
Second, some may suggest while evolution does not entail objective morality’s falsehood, it makes it less likely to be true. The argument would be that evolution’s accounting for belief in objective moral values is consistent with those values being false. But this is hardly demonstrative, or even suggestive, of that belief being false. After all, the same reasoning gets us just any belief to be in the same situation. We don’t think, for example, laws of logic are probably false because evolution accounts for our belief in them.
One final interesting side note: there is at least one way of escape here. The objector may bite the bullet and admit that it is the case that every belief, on naturalistic evolution, is consistent with that belief being false and hence we have a defeater for every belief. In that case, either evolution did not happen, and the best naturalistic account of the current state of things evaporates, or evolution was guided by a transcendent source, guaranteeing at least some true beliefs. In either case, we have a defeater for naturalistic evolution. But if we have a defeater for naturalistic evolution, it follows the objection against objective moral values loses all force.---------------------
All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.