Three challenges (and three replies) to the ethics of belief

Synthese 168 (2):249 - 271 (2009)
In this paper I look at three challenges to the very possibility of an ethics of belief and then show how they can be met. The first challenge, from Thomas Kelly, says that epistemic rationality is not (merely) a form of instrumental rationality. If this claim is true, then it will be difficult to develop an ethics of belief that does not run afoul of naturalism. The second challenge is the Non-Voluntarism Argument, which holds that because we cannot believe at will and because ought implies can, there can be no ethics of belief. The third challenge comes from Richard Feldman, who claims that there is no such thing as ought all-things-considered. He says, for example, that moral oughts can be weighed against other moral oughts and that epistemic oughts can be compared to each other, but that there is no way to weigh moral oughts against epistemic oughts. If this is true, then norms about what one ought to believe are not nearly as important as one might have hoped or as philosophers have traditionally thought. In answering these three challenges, I try to show how and why the project of developing epistemic norms might be a promising avenue of research, despite claims to the contrary.
Keywords Ethics of belief  Rationality  Epistemology  Voluntarism  Value  Normativity
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References found in this work BETA
Thomas Kelly (2003). Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):612–640.
Philip Kitcher (1992). The Naturalists Return. Philosophical Review 101 (1):53-114.
Richard Feldman (2000). The Ethics of Belief. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3):667-695.

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Citations of this work BETA
Susanna Rinard (2015). No Exception for Belief. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2).
Anthony Robert Booth (2014). Epistemic Ought is a Commensurable Ought. European Journal of Philosophy 22 (4):529-539.
Ruth Weintraub (2012). What Can We Learn From Buridan's Ass? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 42 (3):281-301.

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