Can Arbitrary Beliefs Be Rational?

Episteme:1-16 (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

When a belief has been influenced, in part or whole, by factors that, by the believer’s own lights, do not bear on the truth of the believed proposition, we can say that the belief has been, in a sense, arbitrarily formed. Can such beliefs ever be rational? It might seem obvious that they can’t. After all, belief, supposedly, “aims at the truth.” But many epistemologists have come to think that certain kinds of arbitrary beliefs can, indeed, be rational. In this paper, I want to do two things. First, I want to show that the claim that arbitrary beliefs can be rational is inconsistent with the conjunction of two other attractive claims: one saying that rationality requires a certain kind of epistemic immodesty, and one saying that rationality forbids certain kinds of self-ascriptions of epistemic luck. Second, I want to evaluate different ways one might respond to this inconsistent triad. I won’t defend any response in particular, but I’ll draw out some notable costs and benefits of each response, which may help shed light on the question of whether arbitrary beliefs can be rational.

Similar books and articles

Learning with Hazy Beliefs.Dean Foster & H. Young - 1998 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 5:325-335.
Primitively Rational Belief-Forming Processes.Ralph Wedgwood - 2011 - In Andrew Reisner & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (eds.), Reasons for Belief. Cambridge University Press. pp. 180--200.
Rational Beliefs in Rationalizability.Xiao Luo - 2016 - Theory and Decision 81 (2):189-198.
Rational Reflection.David Christensen - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):121-140.
Justified Belief And The Infinite Regress Argument.John N. Williams - 1981 - American Philosophical Quarterly 18 (1):85-88.
The problem of arbitrary requirements: an abrahamic perspective.Sara Aronowitz, Marilie Coetsee & Amir Saemi - 2021 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 89 (3):221-242.
Belief, Rational and Justified.Wes Siscoe - 2021 - Mind 130 (517):59-83.
Deliberation and Pragmatic Belief.Brad Armendt - 2019 - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge.
Does Belief Have an Aim?David John Owens - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 115 (3):283-305.

Analytics

Added to PP
2021-11-01

Downloads
254 (#46,610)

6 months
87 (#8,598)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Mattias Skipper
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Accuracy and the Laws of Credence.Richard Pettigrew - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.
What is Justified Belief?Alvin Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
The Skeptic and the Dogmatist.James Pryor - 2000 - Noûs 34 (4):517–549.
Warrant for Nothing (and Foundations for Free)?Crispin Wright - 2004 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78 (1):167–212.

View all 46 references / Add more references