The Evolution of Retribution
What is it about?
I use evolutionary explanations for retribution to debunk certain theories of punishment. The theories I target are based on desert and claim that the justification of punishment does not entirely depend on the consequences of punishment. The problem is with the psychological processes that make these theories seem attractive. If those psychological processes evolved because of their biological consequences (e.g. increased fitness), then they cannot give us good reason to think punishment has value aside from its consequences.
Why is it important?
The argument shows that knowledge about our evolutionary history can inform moral theories. This is a unique form of debunking argument. It uses evolutionary considerations to decide between moral theories (as opposed to metaethical theories). Moreover, it does not fall prey to the most common criticisms of other evolutionary debunking arguments (e.g. in metaethics).
The following have contributed to this page: Dr Isaac T Wiegman
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