Fictional persuasion, transparency, and the aim of belief

In E. Sullivan-Bissett (ed.), Art and Belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 153-73 (2017)

Lisa Bortolotti
University of Birmingham
Ema Sullivan-Bissett
University of Birmingham
In this chapter we argue that some beliefs present a problem for the truth-aim teleological account of belief, according to which it is constitutive of belief that it is aimed at truth. We draw on empirical literature which shows that subjects form beliefs about the real world when they read fictional narratives, even when those narratives are presented as fiction, and subjects are warned that the narratives may contain falsehoods. We consider Nishi Shah’s teleologist’s dilemma and a response to it from Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen which appeals to weak truth regulation as a feature common to all belief. We argue that beliefs from fiction indicate that there is not a basic level of truth regulation common to all beliefs, and thus the teleologist’s dilemma remains. We consider two objections to our argument. First, that the attitudes gained through reading fiction are not beliefs, and thus teleologists are not required to account for them in their theory. We respond to this concern by defending a doxastic account of the attitudes gained from fiction. Second, that these beliefs are in fact appropriately truth-aimed, insofar as readers form beliefs upon what they take to be author testimony. We respond to this concern by suggesting that the conditions under which one can form justified beliefs upon testimony are not met in the cases we discuss. Lastly, we gesture towards a teleological account grounded in biological function, which is not vulnerable to our argument. We conclude that beliefs from fiction present a problem for the truth-aim teleological account of belief.
Keywords belief  transparency  fiction
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

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

Doxastic Deliberation.Nishi Shah & J. David Velleman - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (4):497-534.
How Truth Governs Belief.Nishi Shah - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (4):447-482.
No Norm Needed: On the Aim of Belief.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (225):499–516.
In-Between Believing.Eric Schwitzgebel - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (202):76-82.
Does Belief Have an Aim?David John Owens - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 115 (3):283-305.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Fictional Persuasion and the Nature of Belief.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2017 - In Ema Sullivan-Bissett, Helen Bradley & Paul Noordhof (eds.), Art and Belief. Oxford University Press. pp. 174-193.
No Norm Needed: On the Aim of Belief.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (225):499–516.
Transparency and Reasons for Belief.Benjamin Wald - 2015 - Logos and Episteme 6 (4):475-494.
Transparency, Doxastic Norms, and the Aim of Belief.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2013 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 32.
Truth Meets Fiction: The Semantic Psychology of Make-Belief.Richard Mark Hanley - 1995 - Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park
Does Belief Have an Aim?David John Owens - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 115 (3):283-305.
The Epistemology of Belief.Hamid Vahid - 2009 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
The Genuine Attitude View of Fictional Belief.Wesley Buckwalter & Katherine Tullmann - 2017 - In Bradley H., Sullivan-Bissett E. & Noordhof P. (eds.), Art and Belief. Oxford University Press.
Beliefs and Fictional Narrators.Derek Matravers - 1995 - Analysis 55 (2):121 - 122.
Rationality and the Role of the Will in Belief Acquisition.Laurie Anne Catherine Pieper - 1993 - Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
Self-Knowledge and the Transparency of Belief.Brie Gertler - 2011 - In Anthony Hatzimoysis (ed.), Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
A New Argument for Evidentialism.Nishi Shah - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (225):481–498.
Truth as the Aim of Epistemic Justification.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2013 - In Timothy Chan (ed.), The Aim of Belief. Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
178 ( #45,691 of 2,289,428 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
53 ( #15,799 of 2,289,428 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature