BJPS Papers in The Philosopher’s Annual 2017

The BJPS is pleased to note that two of the papers it published last year have been included in The Philosopher’s Annual top ten papers of 2017. These papers have been made free to access, with links below.

Jeffrey A. Barrett and Brian Skyrms, ‘Self-assembling Games‘, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 68, pp. 329–53.

We consider how cue-reading, sensory-manipulation, and signalling games may initially evolve from ritualized decisions and how more complex games may evolve from simpler games by polymerization, template transfer, and modular composition. Modular composition is a process that combines simpler games into more complex games. Template transfer, a process by which a game is appropriated to a context other than the one in which it initially evolved, is one mechanism for modular composition. And polymerization is a particularly salient example of modular composition where simpler games evolve to form more complex chains. We also consider how the evolution of new capacities by modular composition may be more efficient than evolving those capacities from basic decisions.

Kim Sterelny and Ben Fraser, ‘Evolution and Moral Realism‘, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 68, pp. 981–1006

We are moral apes, a difference between humans and our relatives that has received significant recent attention in the evolutionary literature. Evolutionary accounts of morality have often been recruited in support of error theory: moral language is truth-apt, but substantive moral claims are never true (or never warranted). In this article, we: (i) locate evolutionary error theory within the broader framework of the relationship between folk conceptions of a domain and our best scientific conception of that same domain; (ii) within that broader framework, argue that error theory and vindication are two ends of a continuum, and that in the light of our best science, many folk conceptual structures are neither hopelessly wrong nor fully vindicated; and (iii) argue that while there is no full vindication of morality, no seamless reduction of normative facts to natural facts, nevertheless one important strand in the evolutionary history of moral thinking does support reductive naturalism—moral facts are facts about cooperation, and the conditions and practices that support or undermine it. In making our case for (iii), we first respond to the important error theoretic argument that the appeal to moral facts is explanatorily redundant, and second, we make a positive case that true moral beliefs are a ‘fuel for success’, a map by which we steer, flexibly, in a variety of social interactions. The vindication, we stress, is at most partial: moral cognition is a complex mosaic, with a complex genealogy, and selection for truth-tracking is only one thread in that genealogy.

Congratulations to Professors Barrett, Skyrms, Sterelny, and Fraser! Congratulations also to BJPS Associate Editor Lara Buchak whose paper ‘Taking Risks Behind the Veil of Ignorance‘, published in Ethics, was also included.

Further details can be found here.