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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sophie Horowitz

Subject Categories



Suppose that Sherlock Holmes has just closed another case, and is convinced that Moriarty is the perpetrator. At that very moment, Inspector Lestrade arrives to inform Holmes that a Scotland Yard analysis of his past investigations shows that he only identifies the correct suspect in 50% of cases. How should Holmes respond to this new information?

This is a question about higher-order evidence. Higher-order evidence can be understood as evidence about the rationality of your beliefs, or about your reliability in judging matters in a certain domain. Some views on higher-order evidence, like calibrationism, say that Holmes should drastically reduce his confidence that Moriarty is the perpetrator, in light of what he learns about his track record. Other perspectives will recommend that Holmes stick to his guns instead. This dissertation explores the nature and epistemic significance of higher-order evidence, and considers whether higher-order evidence we acquire from empirical research into human evolution might serve to undermine the justification for our moral beliefs, as evolutionary debunking arguments, like those advanced by Sharon Street and Richard Joyce, have alleged. Ultimately, I argue that the calibrationist response to higher-order evidence is the right one, and that our emerging understanding of how morality evolved does indeed pose a serious challenge to the epistemic status of our moral beliefs.


Available for download on Friday, September 01, 2023