if pleasure is (usually good), then it was pre-ordained ahead of time, as it were, that (almost) whatever evolution should happen to make us value through this mechanism, it would thereby also imbue with value”
Can Evolution Debunk our Moral Beliefs?
Andrés Ruiz
304

How do we know pleasure being good was pre-ordained? It could easily have been that pleasure is generated by the process of evolution, that the concept of good and bad were evolutionarily beneficial. It seems that evolution did make pleasureableness good, and in fact made the idea of of good so that there could be pleasure at all.

How could evolution have made the idea of good? Well, in the beginning there was a lot of action by particles that seem to obey certain laws. We can’t really call those laws objective moral truth; it doesn’t make sense really, because sub-atomic particles only fit together a certain way, and if fitting together is good, then there is no evil: sub-atomic particles cannot make evil arrangements. Surely this talk of evil combinations of sub-atomic particles is silly.

When we get to living things, though, that have agency and choice between multiple options, there needs to be a way to make the right choice. In a Darwinian sense, objective good is whatever will lead to healthy offspring. So there we have it, objective goodness, but not in a way that will make everyone happy. There’s absolutely no implication nor a need for a “pre-ordained” goodness. Which again, what does that even mean?

For if pleasure is usually good, then the activities and states of affairs evolution has caused us to value through this mechanism tend to be good- because they are pleasurable. Hence, if P is true, there is a relation between reproductive enhancement and goodness after all (Skarsaune, 2011, p. 234).”

But here we have a problem. Pleasure is usually good in that it usually leads to reproduction. Eating is pleasureable and necessary to get to reproduction, therefore it is good. However, we can dissect eating more, and some would say that only eating certain things is good. But this contradicts the fact that eating at all is beneficial, so then pleasure does not necessarily mean morally good.

Skarsaune seems to just be circularly reasoning that if pleasure leads to goodness, and we assume for no apparent reason that goodness is a quality that existed before thinking things, then evolution leads us towards the best goodness. But he’s presupposing this idea of goodness, instead of recognizing that evolution could have created the idea of goodness and pleasure.

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