The Ethics of Belief
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Emergent Australasian Philosophers (4):9 (2011)
Most people think there are things we ought to believe, and things we ought not to believe, otherwise means-ends rationality wouldn‟t be possible. But are there things that we ought to believe, or ought not to believe, irrespective of our ends? Clifford (1879) and James (1896) have different views about how this question should be answered. Clifford has an absolutist view, that it is always morally wrong for one to believe something upon insufficient evidence or reasoning. James argues that there are special cases in which one is entitled to believe upon insufficient evidence or reasoning. After examining their arguments, I argue for an alternative position, in which we are morally obliged to change our beliefs in response to certain situations we are faced with in our everyday lives. The view that Clifford and I share is that a belief itself (but not only belief itself) can be morally wrong, independently of any wrong actions the belief in question causes. While it could be objected that we have no control over what we believe, and hence can‟t be held morally responsible for our beliefs, I contend that moral realisation causes the necessary change in the morally deficient belief we realise we have. Since Clifford and James both intended their views to be applied to religious belief, I will also discuss one important application for the ideas discussed in this essay, namely the implication these arguments have for religious belief.
|Keywords||William Clifford William James belief|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Brian Zamulinski (2002). A Re-Evaluation of Clifford and His Critics. Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):437-457.
Berit Brogaard (forthcoming). Wide-Scope Requirements and the Ethics of Belief. In Jonathan Matheson & Rico Vitz (eds.), The Ethics of Belief.
Richard Amesbury (2008). The Virtues of Belief: Toward a Non-Evidentialist Ethics of Belief-Formation. [REVIEW] International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 63 (1/3):25 - 37.
Tim Madigan (2008). W.K. Clifford and 'the Ethics of Belief'. Cambridge Scholars.
Andrew Chignell, The Ethics of Belief. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Melissa Bergeron (2006). The Ethics of Belief: Conservative Belief Management. Social Epistemology 20 (1):67 – 78.
Jennifer Faust (2008). Can Religious Arguments "Persuade"? International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 63 (1/3):71-86.
Michael J. Shaffer (2006). The Publicity of Belief, Epistemic Wrongs and Moral Wrongs. Social Epistemology 20 (1):41 – 54.
Jennifer Welchman (2006). William James's "the Will to Believe" and the Ethics of Self-Experimentation. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 42 (2):229-241.
Brian Zamulinski (2004). A Defense of the Ethics of Belief. Philo 7 (1):79-96.
John Woods (2011). W. V. Quine's “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”. Topoi 30 (1):87-97.
William Kingdon Clifford (1999). The Ethics of Belief and Other Essays. Prometheus Books.
Richard Feldman (2006). Clifford's Principle and James's Options. Social Epistemology 20 (1):19 – 33.
Jeff Kasser & Nishi Shah (2006). The Metaethics of Belief: An Expressivist Reading of "the Will to Believe". Social Epistemology 20 (1):1 – 17.
Added to index2011-04-06
Total downloads4 ( #279,870 of 1,413,120 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #152,603 of 1,413,120 )
How can I increase my downloads?