Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Does the Fact of Human Evolution Undermine the Facts of Morality?

John Mizzoni.

Philosophers such as Ruse and Joyce argue that the fact of human evolution undermines the facts of morality. They defend an error theory according to which morality is an illusion, nothing more than a systematic deception. In their view, an evolutionary account of human origins supports an error theory because natural selection explains why we fall under the sway of this illusion: because the illusion aids our survival. But if there is an objective factual quality to our pre-reflective moral experience (as even the error theorists admit), and if alleged moral facts and objective values are admittedly effective in aiding survival, then prima facie, they should be construed realistically not as an illusion. For these reasons and others, I argue that the fact of human evolution does not undermine the facts of morality but supports them; and coupling error theory with an evolutionary account of human origins only serves to shed light on how error theory suffers from internal inconsistencies.


John Mizzoni  (United States)
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Division of Arts and Sciences
Neumann College

John Mizzoni is an assistant professor of philosophy at Neumann College, which is located in Aston, Pennsylvania. His research interests include metaethics, environmental ethics, and philosophy of biology. His work has been published in The Journal of Philosophical Research, The International Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Environmental Ethics.

  • Human evolution
  • Moral realism
  • Moral error theory
Person as Subject
  • Joyce, R. Ruse, M.

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)