Debunking Arguments and Metaphysical Laws
Barker (Jonathan)
Source: Philosophical Studies (Forthcoming as of March 2019)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Moral beliefs, mathematical beliefs, religious beliefs, and beliefs about which composite objects exist have all been the target of so-called “debunking” arguments. Debunking arguments typically begin with the claim that there is a debunking explanation of some type of belief we hold. A debunking explanation is a complete causal explanation of the origins of some type of belief, which makes no reference to the facts that are those beliefs’ putative subject matter. Once we concede the existence of such an explanation, the debunker contends, we thereby lose our justification for holding those beliefs.
  2. In this paper I shall argue that one’s views about which “metaphysical laws” obtain — such as the laws about what is identical with what, about what is reducible to what, and about what grounds what — can be used block the epistemic threat posed by debunking arguments.
  3. I will develop the proposed strategy by using a well-known debunking argument in the metaphysics of material objects as a case study. Then, after defending the proposed strategy from the charge of question-begging, I shall argue that certain moral realists can use the proposed strategy to reply to the evolutionary debunking arguments in meta-ethics. I will conclude by outlining the strategy in its most generalized form.


See Barker - Debunking Arguments and Metaphysical Laws.

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