2022: Jove's Bodega: Compendium of Philosophical Inquiry

Critique of Sharon Street's Evolutionary Account Against Moral Realism

John Campbell
Simon Fraser University
Jove's Bodega: Compendium of Philosophical Inquiry, 2022, cover image

Published 2022-08-26


In this article, I argue Sharon Street’s evolutionary account in “A Darwinian Dilemma For Realist Theories of Value,” faces significant empirical and philosophical problems. I split Street’s account into two components: the evolutionary premise and the adaptive link account. The evolutionary premise suffers from issues in its improper application of the models of altruism in explaining the content of our evaluative attitudes when comparing humans and chimpanzees. The adaptive link account suffers because of Street’s invocation of inference to the best explanation and the misunderstanding between a trait being an adaption and an adaptive trait. I argue that the adaptive link account results in a just-so story. This is a problem for Street, and I will suggest she has a possible way out.