Synthese 168 (2):249-271 (2009)

Brian Huss
State University of New York at Potsdam
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 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 Philosophy   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language   Logic   Epistemology   Computer Science, general   Philosophy of Science
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-008-9394-7
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References found in this work BETA

The Nature of Rationality.Robert Nozick - 1993 - Princeton University Press.
Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique.Thomas Kelly - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):612–640.
The Naturalists Return.Philip Kitcher - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (1):53-114.
The Ethics of Belief.Richard Feldman - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3):667-695.
Doxastic Compatibilism and the Ethics of Belief.Sharon Ryan - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):47-79.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No Exception for Belief.Susanna Rinard - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (1):121-143.
Epistemic Ought is a Commensurable Ought.Anthony Robert Booth - 2014 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (4):529-539.
Hume’s Doxastic Involuntarism.Hsueh Qu - 2017 - Mind 126 (501):53-92.
What Can We Learn From Buridan's Ass?Ruth Weintraub - 2012 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 42 (3-4):281-301.
Does Scepticism Presuppose Voluntarism?Jonathan Hill - 2018 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 8 (1):31-50.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

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