Graduate studies at Western
Philosophical Studies 160 (2):209-222 (2012)
|Abstract||Can a person ever occurrently believe p and yet have the simultaneous, occurrent belief q that this very belief that p is false? Surely not, most would say: that description of a person’s epistemic economy seems to misunderstand the very concept of belief. In this paper I question this orthodox assumption. There are, I suggest, cases where we have a first-order mental state m that involves taking the world to be a certain way, yet although we ourselves acknowledge that we are in m, we reflectively disavow m’s propositional content. If such an epistemic stance is possible, does this irrationally persistent first-order state m really deserve the title of belief, or should it instead be classified under some other, less doxastic appellation? I argue in this paper that the belief terminology is warranted, and thus, that we can be correctly described as having the second-order belief that a specific first-order belief that we nonetheless continue to hold is false. In such cases, our first-order state is what I refer to as a naughty belief. Like naughty toddlers, naughty beliefs are recalcitrant in the face of epistemic authority.|
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