This paper deals with the semantics of de dicto , de re and de se beliefreports. First, I flesh out in some detail the established, classical theories that assume syntactic distinctions between all three types of reports. I then propose a new, unified analysis, based on two ideas discarded by the classical theory. These are: (i) modeling the de re/de dicto distinction as a difference in scope, and (ii) analyzing de se as merely a special case (...) of relational de re attitudes. The resurrection of these ideas takes place in a dynamic setting. My formalization of the first idea involves a modification of the presupposition-as-anaphora resolution algorithm for DRT. The second involves treating acquaintance relations as second-order presuppositions, to be bound in the context by means of higher-order unification, or accommodated if necessary. The resulting framework requires no syntactic distinctions between different modes of attitude, with the exception of a specific subclass of de se reports characterized by special ‘ de se pronouns’ (i.e. PRO and logophors). These special pronouns are handled in syntax; everything alse is passed on to the pragmatic resolution module as it appears on the surface. The more sophisticated contextual resolution process nonetheless ensures adequate output truth conditions for a variety of classical and novel puzzles. In particular, I compare the new pragmasemantic system to the classical, syntactic analysis with respect to iterated and quantified reports, and monstrously shifted indexicals. (shrink)
In his book Semantic Relationism, Kit Fine propounds an original and sophisticated semantic theory called ‘semantic relationism’ or ‘relational semantics’, whose peculiarity is the enrichment of Kaplan’s, Salmon’s and Soames’ Russellian semantics (more specifically, the semantic content of simple sentences and the truth-conditions of beliefreports) with coordination, “the very strongest relation of synonymy or being semantically the same”. In this paper, my goal is to shed light on an undesirable result of semantic relationism: a report like “Tom (...) believes that Cicero is bald and Tom does not believe that Tully is bald” is correct according to Fine’s provided truth-conditions of beliefreports, but its semantic content is (very likely) a contradiction. As I will argue in the paper, even the resort to the notion of token proposition, introduced in Fine’s recent article “Comments on Scott Soames’ ‘Coordination Problems’”, does not suffice to convincingly eliminate the contradiction; moreover, it raises new difficulties. (shrink)
Percus & Sauerland (2003) use quantified beliefreports of the form 'Only Peter thinks he's...' to argue for dedicated de se LFs. The argument is targeted against any reductionist account that sees de se as merely a particular subtype of de re, viz. a de re belief about oneself from a first person perspective, requiring nothing but an account of de re attitudes. My acquaintance resolution framework is an attempt at just such a reduction and in this (...) paper I extend that theory with a projection mechanism to allow local accommodation of acquaintance relations. With this extension we can account for their data, as well as for some related data involving quantified beliefreports familiar from arguments in the de se literature. Note: the embedded video of Peter's mistaken self-identity is urlhttp://ncs.ruhosting.nl/emar/dese.mpgavailable in .mpg here. (shrink)
This thesis deals with the phenomenon of attitude reporting. More specifically, it provides a unified semantics of de re and de se beliefreports. After arguing that de se belief is best thought of as a special case of de re belief, I examine whether we can extend this unification to the realm of beliefreports. I show how, despite very promising first steps, previous attempts in this direction ultimately fail with respect to some (...) relatively recent linguistic data involving quantified and infinitival reports, logophoric constructions, and monstrously shifted indexicals. Formalizing my idea of a contextual resolution of acquaintance relations in a dynamic framework, I arrive at an alternative analysis that handles all these data. (shrink)
The traditional puzzles about beliefreports puzzles rest on a certain seemingly innocuous assumption, that 'that'-clauses specify belief contents. The main theories of beliefreports also rest on this "Specification Assumption", that for a belief report of the form 'A believes that p' to be true,' the proposition that p must be among the things A believes. I use Kripke's Paderewski case to call the Specification Assumption into question. Giving up that assumption offers prospects (...) for an intuitively more plausible approach to the semantics of beliefreports. But this approach must confront a puzzle of its own: it turns out that every case is a Paderewski case, at least potentially. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a well-known theory of beliefreports from an important objection. The theory is Russellianism, sometimes also called `neo-Russellianism', `Millianism', `the direct reference theory', `the "Fido"-Fido theory', or `the naive theory'. The objection concernssubstitution of co-referring names in belief sentences. Russellianism implies that any two belief sentences, that differ only in containing distinct co-referring names, express the same proposition (in any given context). Since `Hesperus' and `Phosphorus' both refer to the planet Venus, (...) this view implies that all utterances of (1) and.. (shrink)
In recent years Russell´s view that there are singular propositions, namely propositions that contain the individuals they are about, has gained followers. As a response to a number of puzzles about attitude ascriptions several Russellians (as I will call those who accept the view that proper names and indexicals only contribute their referents to the propositions expressed by the sentences in which they occur), including David Kaplan and Nathan Salmon, have drawn a distinction between what proposition is believed and how (...) it is believed.1 While it is generally agreed upon among Russellians that this distinction needs to be drawn there is considerable disagreement as to what exactly the distinction amounts to and what role the what and the how should play. The most plausible option seems to be to not assign a semantic value to the cognitive role played by the name or indexical in the sentence assented to. But recently Mark Richard2 has attempted to make the cognitive role affect truth values by building it into the truth conditions of beliefreports.3 I will argue that Richard’s attempt fails to satisfy our pretheoretical intuitions about the sharing of beliefs. Furthermore, and more surprisingly, I will argue that Richard’s theory makes it virtually impossible for us to judge whether or not most beliefreports are true or false, since doing so would involve what I call RAM probing, which would require viewing elements that are essentially private. (shrink)
I'd like to present a puzzle about beliefreports that's been nagging at me for several years. I've subjected many friends and audiences to various abortive attempts at solving it. Now it's time to get it off my chest and let others try their hand at it.<1>.
Philosophers of language traditionally take it that anti-substitution intuitions teach us about the content of beliefreports. Jennifer Saul [1997, 2002 (with David Braun), 2007] challenges this lesson. Here I offer a response to Saul’s challenge. In the first two sections of the article, I present a common sense justification for drawing conclusions about content from anti-substitution intuitions. Then, in Sect. 3, I outline Saul’s challenge—what she calls ‘the Enlightenment Problem’. Finally, in Sect. 4, I argue that Saul’s (...) challenge does not undermine the common sense justification presented in Sects. 1 and 2. I avoid the challenge by arguing that anti-substitution intuitions are not directly sensitive to the content of the sentences that produce them, but rather to the possibility that one could have distinct ways of thinking about an object. (shrink)
Dynamic approaches to semantics like Discourse Representation Theory or Jaszczolt's Default Semantics provide more and more effective tools to represent how speakers handle meanings in linguistic practices. These deeper perspectives may give us a lever to lift some of the philosophical perplexities crowding semantics and to catch a glimpse of what hides beneath them. In this paper, I exploit these approaches with relation to the analysis of beliefreports. However, it will emerge that, despite their benefits, the theories (...) that support these representational advances may be themselves question begging from a philosophical point of view. Brandom's remarks about normative character of intentional content offer an important contribution to bring into focus the right path to drive these representational improvements towards really acceptable answers to philosophical questions about semantics. (shrink)
(1) The propositions we believe and say are _Russellian_ _propositions_: structured propositions whose basic components are the objects and properties our thoughts and speech acts are about. (2) Many singular terms.
One major obstacle in providing a compositional semantics for natural languages is that it is not clear how we should deal with propositional attitude contexts. In this paper I will discuss the Interpreted Logical Form proposal , focusing on the case of belief. This proposal has been developed in different ways by authors such as Harman (1972), Higginbotham (1986,1991), Segal (1989) and Larson and Ludlow (1993). On this approach, the that-clause of a belief report is treated as a (...) singular term, referring to the interpreted logical form (ILF) of its embedded sentence. The ILF of a sentence is made up of two parts : a syntactic representation of the sentence at the level of logical form, and an assignment of semantic values to parts of the representation. Thus, given a belief report such as. (shrink)
Gary Ostertag (Philos Stud 146:249–267, 2009) has presented a new puzzle for Russellianism about beliefreports. He argues that Russellians do not have the resources to solve this puzzle in terms of pragmatic phenomena. I argue to the contrary that the puzzle can be solved according to Nathan Salmon’s (Frege’s puzzle, 1986) pragmatic account of beliefreports, provided that the account is properly understood. Specifically, the puzzle can be solved so long as Salmon’s guises are not (...) identified with sentences. (shrink)
According to a Millian theory of names, co-referring names are intersubstitutable salva veritate in all contexts, including the that-clauses of beliefreports. This leads the Millian to famously argue, among other things, that if Lois Lane believes that Superman can fly then she also believes that Clark Kent can fly. Although the Millian provides an ingenious account that explains our strong anti-substitution intuitions in such cases, this paper argues that the Millian account leads to a new problem of (...) enlightenment in identity reports. Specifically, a believer A may come to discover that two names refer to the same individual S, but whether A is enlightened about the identity of S will depend on the number of guises through which A holds contradictory beliefs about S. (shrink)
This paper proposes a way of semantically representing de re belief ascriptions that involves contextual resolution of the acquaintance relation between the attitude holder and the object about which the attitude is de re. A special case is that where the belief is about the believer herself. Here, we may discern two possibilities: the acquaintance relation is equality, in which case we end up with a de se belief, or, if the first option fails, we search the (...) context for a different suitable relation of acquaintance between the believer and herself, like looking in a mirror or seeing yourself on TV. This second option leaves open the possibility that the believer herself is unaware of the fact that she's actually seeing herself, thereby accounting for the true reading (de re/non-de se) of ``Lain believes she will win'' in mistaken identity scenarios. To implement all this formally, I use a two-dimensionally modal extension of DRT, and second order binding and unification. (shrink)
In this paper I assume that it is reasonable to claim, as Michael Devitt does, that a definite description can express, in certain contexts, a genuinely referential meaning, but I discuss the requisite, also defended by Devitt, that the predicates involved in the description at stake should apply to the referred object. In so doing, I consider some cases of sentences containing definite descriptions constituted by general terms that, strictly speaking, don't apply to the intended object but are nonetheless intuitively (...) true. Along these lines, in the last paragraphs, I suggest that the role of the predicative material of a referential definite description can be regarded as secondary or instrumental, a mere guide to the identification of the object referred to. En el presente trabajo parto de asumir que es razonable sostener, como propone Michael Devitt, que una descripción definida puede expresar, en ciertos contextos, un significado genuinamente referencial para luego discutir el requisito, también defendido por Devitt, de que los predicados que constituyen la descripción en cuestión deban aplicarse al objeto referido. Para hacerlo, considero ejemplos de oraciones que contienen descripciones definidas constituidas por términos generales que, en sentido estricto, no se aplican al objeto pretendido, pero que pueden ser consideradas intuitivamente verdaderas. Siguiendo este enfoque, en los párrafos finales, sugiero que el papel del material predicativo que constituye una descripción definida referencial debe ser considerado secundario e instrumental, una mera guía para la identificación del objeto referido. (shrink)
Chierchia (1989) and others have used the contrast between George hopes that he will win and Georges hopes to win in mistaken-self-identity scenarios, to argue for dedicated de se LFs. The argument, further strengthened by evidence of shiftable indexicals, appears applicable against any reductionist account that sees de se as merely a particular subtype of de re. My Acquaintance Resolution framework is an attempt at such a reduction, and this paper seeks to extend that theory with a logical principle of (...) introspection for belief, to account for the data within a unified treatment of de re and de se. (shrink)
It is argued here that there is no fact of the matter between direct reference theory and neo-Fregeanism. To get a more precise idea of the central thesis of this paper, consider the following two claims: (i) While direct reference theory and neo-Fregeanism can be developed in numerous ways, they can be developed in essentially parallel ways; that is, for any (plausible) way of developing direct reference theory, there is an essentially parallel way of developing neo-Fregeanism, and vice versa. And (...) (ii) for each such pair of theories, there is no fact of the matter as to which of them is superior; or more precisely, they are tied in terms of factual accuracy. These are sweeping claims that cannot be fully justified in a single paper. But arguments are given here that motivate these theses, i.e., that suggest that they are very likely true. (shrink)
This book provides a formal ontology of senses and the belief-relation that grounds the distinction between de dicto, de re, and de se beliefs as well as the opacity of beliefreports. According to this ontology, the relata of the belief-relation are an agent and a special sort of object-dependent sense (a "thought-content"), the latter being an "abstract" property encoding various syntactic and semantic constraints on sentences of a language of thought. One bears the belief-relation (...) to a thought-content T just in case one (is disposed as one who) inwardly affirms a certain sentence S of one’s language of thought that satisfies what T encodes, which in turn requires that S’s non-logical parts stand in appropriate semantical relations to items specified by T. Since these items may include other senses as well as ordinary objects, beliefs of arbitrary complexity are automatically accommodated. Within the framework of the formal ontology, a context-dependent compositional semantics is then provided for a fragment of regimented English capable of formulating ascriptions of belief—a semantics that treats substitutional opacity as a genuine semantic datum. Finally, the resulting picture of belief and its attribution is defended by showing how it solves standard puzzles, avoids objections to rival accounts, and satisfies certain adequacy conditions not fulfilled by traditional theories. Along the way, clarification and defense is offered for the ingredient conception of object-dependent senses, and it is shown how adoption of the language of thought hypothesis permits Bertrand Russell’s obscure doctrine of logical forms to be understood in a way that not only vindicates his Multiple Relation theory of de re belief but also reveals the connection between these logical forms and thought-contents. (shrink)
According to proponents of the face-value account, a beliefreport of the form ‘S believes that p’ is true just in case the agentbelieves a proposition referred to by the that-clause. As againstthis familiar view, I argue that there are cases of true beliefreports of the relevant form in which there is no proposition that thethat-clause, or the speaker using the that-clause, can plausibly betaken as referring to. Moreover, I argue that given the distinctiveway in which the face-value theory of (...) class='Hi'>belief-reports fails, there ispressure to give up the metaphysical thesis that belief is apropositional attitude. I conclude by suggesting that we allownon-propositional entities to be amongst the relata of thebelief-relation, and make some speculative remarks concerning whatsuch entities might be like. (shrink)
I hope I have convinced the reader that DR theory offers at least some exciting potential when applied to the semantics of beliefreports. It differs considerably from other approaches, and it makes intuitively acceptable predictions that other theories do not. The theory also provides a novel approach to the semantics of other propsitional attitude reports. Further, DR theory enables one to approach the topic of anaphora within belief and other propositional attitude contexts in a novel (...) way, thus combining the semantics developed here with one of the theory's original motivations (Kamp, 1981a). However, these are unfortunately topics that I must reserve for another time. (shrink)
This paper is about possible worlds semantics for propositional attitude sentences. In particular I shall focus on beliefreports in English such as "Lusina believes that tofu is nutritious." It is well-known that possible worlds semantics for such reports suffers from the so-called _problem of equivalence_ . In this paper I shall examine some attempts to deal with this problem and argue that they are unsatisfactory.
In 'A Puzzle about Belief' Saul Kripke appeals to a principle of disquotation that allows us to infer a person's beliefs from the sentences to which she assents (in certain conditions). Kripke relies on this principle in constructing some famous puzzle cases, which he uses to defend the Millian view that the sole semantic function of a proper name is to refer to its bearer. The examples are meant to undermine the anti-Millian objection, grounded in traditional Frege-cases, that truth-value (...) is not always maintained when co-referential names are intersubstituted in beliefreports. I argue here that our disquotational practice is sensitive to certain shifts in conversational context, and it is only if we overlook these shifts - if we 'misdisquote' - that we can draw the conclusions Kripke wants to draw from his examples. In the wake of this conclusion, I provide a 'contextualist' treatment of Kripke's puzzle cases. I show how this treatment is motivated by certain norms of rationality, and I defend these norms against an intriguing 'anti-Cartesian' theory of mind. Throughout the paper, I develop the larger implications that my treatment of Kripke's argument has for the semantic theory of names and beliefreports, and, more generally, for our picture of the relation between linguistic behaviour and our states of mind. (shrink)
This essay presents a philosophical and computational theory of the representation of de re, de dicta, nested, and quasi-indexical beliefreports expressed in natural language. The propositional Semantic Network Processing System..
That truth provides the standard for believing appears to be a platitude, one which dovetails with the idea that in some sense belief aims only at the truth. In recent years, however, an increasing number of prominent philosophers have suggested that knowledge provides the standard for believing, and so that belief aims only at knowledge. In this paper, I examine the considerations which have been put forward in support of this suggestion, considerations relating to lottery beliefs, Moorean beliefs, (...) the criticism and defence of belief, and the value of knowledge. I argue that those considerations do not give us reason to give up the truth view in favour of the knowledge view and, moreover, that reflection on those considerations gives us some reason to reject the knowledge view. Thus, I conclude, we can continue to the take the apparent platitude at face value. (shrink)
Clausal complements of different kinds of attitude verbs such as believe, doubt, be surprised, wonder, say, and whisper behave differently semantically in a number of respects. For example, they differ in the inference patterns they display. This paper develops a semantic account of clausal complements using partial logic which accounts for such semantic differences on the basis of a uniform meaning of clauses. It focuses on explaining the heterogeneous inference patterns associated with different kinds of attitude verbs, but it contributes (...) also to explaining differences among clausal complements of attitude verbs regarding the possibility of de re reference, anaphora support, presupposition satisfaction, and the distribution of subjunctive in certain languages. Moreover, it gives a new account of factivity. The point of departure of this paper is the general observation that the failure of inferences from attitude reports is relative in that it depends both on the general type of attitude and on the particular instance of the attitude described. Thus, from John is surprised that P and Q one cannot infer John is surprised that P and John is surprised that Q, though this is possible with believe. Conversely, one can infer from John believes that P and John believes that Q, to John believes that P and Q, but only as long as the same belief state of John is involved. In order to capture this dependency of inferences from attitude reports on a particular mental state or act, I propose an account on which clausal complements of attitude verbs (as well as independent sentences) characterize the intentional state or act described by the attitude verb in question, rather than referring to independent propositions. The semantic account of attitude reports of this paper can hence be called an 'event-based account' of clauses. Formally, the denotation of any sentence, both independent and embedded, is construed as a function mapping an intentional state or act to a function from situations (which form the content of the state or act) to truth values.. (shrink)
In Belief and the Will, van Fraassen employed a diachronic Dutch Book argument to support a counterintuitive principle called Reflection. There and subsequently van Fraassen has put forth Reflection as a linchpin for his views in epistemology and the philosophy of science, and for the voluntarism (first-person reports of subjective probability are undertakings of commitments) that he espouses as an alternative to descriptivism (first-person reports of subjective probability are merely self-descriptions). Christensen and others have attacked Reflection, taking (...) it to have unpalatable consequences. We prescind from the question of the cogency of diachronic Dutch Book arguments, and focus on Reflection's proper interpretation. We argue that Reflection is not as counterintuitive as it appears — that once interpreted properly the status of the counterexamples given by Christensen and others is left open. We show also that descriptivism can make sense of Reflection, while voluntarism is not especially well suited to do so. (shrink)
In this paper, we study the parameters that come into play when assessing the truth conditions of say reports and contrast them with belief attributions. We argue that these conditions are sensitive in intricate ways to the connection between the interpretation of the complement of say and the properties of the reported speech act. There are three general areas this exercise is relevant to, besides the immediate issue of understanding the meaning of say: (i) the discussion shows the (...) need to go beyond the simplest view of propositional attitudes, which treats them as restricted quantifiers over worlds; (ii) the complex connections that must exist between the say report and its source speech act show that one has to be able to differentiate between various layers of meaning for the antecedent sentences; (iii) finally, this paper is a small step towards a typology of propositional attitudes that allows us to uncover the complex web of relationships that grammatical mood is sensitive to. (shrink)
Scientists sometimes change their minds. A 2008 survey on the Edge Web site presented more than 100 self-reports of thinkers changing their minds about scientific and methodological issues (http://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_index.html). For example, Stephen Schneider, a Stanford biologist and climatologist, reported how new evidence in the 1970s led him to abandon his previously published belief that human atmospheric emissions would likely have a cooling rather than a warming effect. Instead, he came to believe – what is now widely accepted – (...) that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are contributing to the dramatic trend of global warming. Similarly, Laurence Smith, a UCLA geographer, reported how in 2007 he came to believe that major changes resulting from global warming will come much sooner than he had previously thought. Observations such as the major sea-ice collapse in Canada’s Northwest Passage had not been predicted to occur so soon by available computational models, but indicated that climate change is happening much faster than expected. Evidence accumulated over the past three decades is widely taken to show that global warming will have major impacts on human life, and that policy changes such as reducing the production of greenhouse gases are urgently needed. However, such scientific and policy conclusions have received considerable resistance, for example from former American president George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (shrink)
Knobe (Analysis 63:190-193, 2003a, Philosophical Psychology 16:309-324, 2003b, Analysis 64:181-187, 2004b) found that people are more likely to attribute intentionality to agents whose actions resulted in negative side-effects that to agents whose actions resulted in positive ones. Subsequent investigation has extended this result to a variety of other folk psychological attributions. The present article reports experimental findings that demonstrate an analogous effect for belief ascriptions. Participants were found to be more likely to ascribe belief, higher degrees of (...)belief, higher degrees of rational belief, and dispositional belief to agents in central Knobe effect cases who bring about negative side-effects than to agents who bring about positive ones. These findings present a significant challenge to widely held views about the Knobe effect, since many explanations of it assume that agents in contrasting pairs of Knobe effect cases do not differ with respect to their beliefs. Participants were also found to be more confident that knowledge should be attributed than they were that belief or dispositional belief should be attributed. This finding strengthens the challenge that Myers-Schulz and Schwitzgebel (2013) have launched against the traditional view that knowledge entails belief. (shrink)
William Kingdon Clifford proposed a vigorous ethics of belief, according to which you are morally prohibited from believing something on insufficient evidence. Though Clifford offers numerous considerations in favor of his ethical theory, the conclusion he wants to draw turns out not to follow from any reasonable assumptions. In fact, I will argue, regardless of how you propose to understand the notion of evidence, it is implausible that we could have a moral obligation to refrain from believing something whenever (...) we lack sufficient evidence. I will argue, however, that there are wide-scope conditional requirements on beliefs but the beliefs in question need not be beliefs for which we have sufficient evidence. I then argue that we are epistemically, but not morally, required to form epistemically valuable beliefs. However, these beliefs, too, need not be beliefs for which we have sufficient evidence. (shrink)
We have argued against the thesis that content is essentially normative (Glüer & Wikforss 2009). In the course of doing so, we also presented some considerations against the thesis that belief is essentially normative. In this paper we clarify and develop these considerations, thereby paving the road for a fully non-normative account of the nature of belief.
This paper presents an effort to induce a Bayesian belief network (BBN) from crime data, namely the national crime victimization survey (NCVS). This BBN defines a joint probability distribution over a set of variables that were employed to record a set of crime incidents, with particular focus on characteristics of the victim. The goals are to generate a BBN to capture how characteristics of crime incidents are related to one another, and to make this information available to domain specialists. (...) The novelty associated with the study reported in this paper lies in the use of a Bayesian network to represent a complex data set to non-experts in a way that facilitates automated analysis. Validation of the BBN’s ability to approximate the joint probability distribution over the set of variables entailed in the NCVS data set is accomplished through a variety of sources including mathematical techniques and human experts for appropriate triangulation. Validation results indicate that the BBN induced from the NCVS data set is a good joint probability model for the set of attributes in the domain, and accordingly can serve as an effective query tool. (shrink)
There has been a considerable amount of debate about the norms of belief, but little discussion to date about what the reasons associated with these norms demand from us. By working out an account of what reasons demand, we can better understand the nature of justification.
Any plausible ethics of belief must respect that normal agents are doxastically blameworthy for their beliefs in a range of non-exotic cases. In this paper, we argue, first, that together with independently motivated principles this constraint leads us to reject occurrentism as a general theory of belief. Second, we must acknowledge not only dormant beliefs, but tacit beliefs as well. Third, a plausible ethics of belief leads us to acknowledge that a difference in propositional content cannot in (...) all contexts count as a criterion for belief individuation. In some contexts, we need to individuate beliefs in a different manner, namely in such a way that they have at least part of their causal history essentially. (shrink)
Abstract Meeting the eliminativist challenge to folk psychology requires showing that beliefs have explanatory virtues unlikely to be duplicated by non?cognitive accounts of behavior. The explanatory power of beliefs is rooted in their intentionality. That beliefs have a distinctive kind of intentionality is shown by the distinctive intensionality of the sentences which report them. Contrary to Fodor, the fundamental explanatory virtues of beliefs are not to be found in their capacity to make causally inactive properties relevant to the explanation of (...) behavior. Rather, the distinctive intentionality of beliefs provides the best explanation of the fact that fully intelligent behavior displays a selectivity of response to properties of the perceptual environment. (shrink)
The “ethics of belief” refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of mind, psychology, and ethics. The central question in the debate is whether there are norms of some sort governing our habits of belief formation, belief maintenance, and belief relinquishment. Is it ever or always morally wrong (or epistemically irrational, or imprudent) to hold a belief on insufficient evidence? Is it ever or always morally right (or epistemically rational, or (...) prudent) to believe on the basis of sufficient evidence, or to withhold belief in the perceived absence of it? Is it ever or always obligatory to seek out all available epistemic evidence for a belief? Are there some ways of obtaining evidence that are themselves immoral or imprudent? -/- . (shrink)
There are currently two robust traditions in philosophy dealing with doxastic attitudes: the tradition that is concerned primarily with all-or-nothing belief, and the tradition that is concerned primarily with degree of belief or credence. This paper concerns the relationship between belief and credence for a rational agent, and is directed at those who may have hoped that the notion of belief can either be reduced to credence or eliminated altogether when characterizing the norms governing ideally rational (...) agents. It presents a puzzle which lends support to two theses. First, that there is no formal reduction of a rational agent’s beliefs to her credences, because belief and credence are each responsive to different features of a body of evidence. Second, that if our traditional understanding of our practices of holding each other responsible is correct, then belief has a distinctive role to play, even for ideally rational agents, that cannot be played by credence. The question of which avenues remain for the credence-only theorist is considered. (shrink)
There seems to be a special relationship between belief and truth that can be metaphorically expressed by saying that belief “aims” at truth or that belief’s “direction of fit” is “to fit the world.” There is an Aristotelian thesis, according to which the special relationship between belief and truth is the same as the special relationship between desire and goodness. Assuming that belief “aims” at truth, then, desire “aims” at goodness. This contrasts with a Humean (...) thesis, on which, while belief “aims” at truth, desire has no analogous “aim.” This paper defends the Aristotelian thesis. (shrink)
It is often said, metaphorically, that belief "aims" at the truth. This paper proposes a normative interpretation of this metaphor. First, the notion of "epistemic norms" is clarified, and reasons are given for the view that epistemic norms articulate essential features of the beliefs that are subject to them. Then it is argued that all epistemic norms--including those that specify when beliefs count as rational, and when they count as knowledge--are explained by a fundamental norm of correct belief, (...) which requires that, if one considers a proposition at all, one should believe it if and only if it is true. (shrink)