My recent series on evolutionary ethics have generated a lot of comments. Some of them have been handled by others making comments.
I wish to supplement some of that exchange.
One flaw I do find, though, is that, like all forms of utilitarianism, you run up against GE Moore's criticism that "good" is simply not reducible to "those actions which tends to fulfill other desires" or any other such formula.
There are two arguments from GE Moore that would apply here.
The first is his famous "naturalistic fallacy". He declares that "good" cannot be the same as "is such as to fulfill the desires in question" because the question, "X is such as to fulfill the desires in question, but is it good?" is an "open question." It is not an obvious tautology.
I discussed the Naturalistic Fallacy n a previous post, The Naturalistic Fallacy.
The Open Question Argument is, itself, a fallacy known as the Masked Man Fallacy. The police say that the Mayor's brother is the masked man who has been robbing people for the past several months. The question, "Jim is the Mayor's brother, but is he the masked man?" is an open question, but it does not disprove the claim that the Mayor's brother is the masked man.
The second of Moore's argument concerns a distinction between what is desired and what is desirable. There is a distinction to be made between the claim, "X is desired" and "X should be desired."
However, desire utilitarianism recognizes this distinction. Desire utilitarianism concerns compromoting desires that tend to fulfill other desires, and inhibiting desires that tend to thwart other desires. That is to say, there is a disctinction between what is desired and should be desired - what would be desired if the agent had those desires that people generally have reason to promote.
Long and short: I cannot see that your identification of "virtue" with "action that tends to promote other desires" as a direct relationship, or as overcoming GE Moore's challenge to utilitarians to avoid the naturalistic fallacy.
I am not certain what you mean in identifying "virtue" with "action that tend to promote other desires".
I do not equate virtue with actions of any type. I equate virtues with desires that people generally have reason to promote, not with actions of any type.
Also, I reject all act utilitarian theories. The right act, in this case, is not the act that maximizes utility. It is the act that a person with good desires would perform. Good desires, in turn, are desires that tend to fulfill other desires. However, it is quite possible for a right action to bring about bad consequences in a specific instance.
My, and others, points were simply that your criticism is trivial and that you are, in effect, making a one-person argument.
The whole point of this series is to address the issue of atheists entering debates into theists on the possibility of morality without God. If I am right and evolutionary ethics has nothing to offer on that subject (because it says nothing about what is truly right or truly wrong), then atheists need to look elsewhere to answer that question.
The ultimate issue that began this series has to do with atheists debating the possibility of morality without God. It is relevant to note that it would be fruitless to try to find an answer in the realm of evolutionary ethics.