I take it you're responding here to my article, "The Gimmick of Game Theory’s Deflation of Morality."

Game theory's approach to morality strikes me as falling out of broader rationalistic arrogance, the arrogance of neoliberal Western society. Calling morality an evolutionary strategy is a belittlement of how morality emerges, rather, from the irrational, religious experience of our ideals for a better world, or from our horror for the actual world which compels us to build the world as we think it ought to be.

Game theory therefore isn't really a tautology, because there's this alternative metatheory of morality. But I doubt it's an either-or choice between them. I can certainly see morality and socialization as having evolutionary functions. The deflationary tactic is the reductive one of saying that that's the full, deepest truth of moral systems. That's the assimilation of morality to a secular humanistic, naturalistic worldview, which is fine as far as it goes since there are worse worldviews.

I'd just sooner interpret morality as an exaptation or as a biproduct like scientific reasoning, as something that emerges and that isn't still just a strategy playing out at a sociobiological level of analysis. By saying that game theory doesn't tell us what to value, you're saying that moral deliberations are autonomous. Why, then, bother reminding us that morality likely emerged from an evolutionary context? Why isn't that the genetic fallacy?

You say morality must conduce to our survival, but I thought our species was in the process of extinguishing itself by destroying the planet's ecosystems. Why not view morality as part of that anomaly, of the relatively short-lived Anthropocene, rather than pretending this is just another evolutionary scheme and that there's nothing new to see here? Again, I detect Western arrogance wafting through these explanations.


Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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