Reasons for Belief, Reasons for Action, the Aim of Belief, and the Aim of Action

In Clayton Littlejohn & John Turri (eds.), Epistemic Norms: New Essays on Action, Belief, and Assertion. Oxford University Press (2014)
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Abstract

Subjects appear to take only evidential considerations to provide reason or justification for believing. That is to say that subjects do not take practical considerations—the kind of considerations which might speak in favour of or justify an action or decision—to speak in favour of or justify believing. This is puzzling; after all, practical considerations often seem far more important than matters of truth and falsity. In this paper, I suggest that one cannot explain this, as many have tried, merely by appeal to the idea that belief aims only at the truth. I appeal instead to the idea that the aim of belief is to provide only practical reasons which might form the basis on which to act and to make decisions, an aim which is in turn dictated by the aim of action. This, I argue, explains why subjects take only evidential considerations to favour of or justify believing. Surprisingly, then, it turns out that it is practical reason itself which demands that there be no practical reasons for belief

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Daniel Whiting
University of Southampton

Citations of this work

The ethics of belief.Andrew Chignell - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
In Defense of Practical Reasons for Belief.Stephanie Leary - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):529-542.
The Normativity of Belief.Conor McHugh & Daniel Whiting - 2014 - Analysis 74 (4):698-713.
Rational supererogation and epistemic permissivism.Robert Weston Siscoe - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (2):571-591.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Justification and the Truth-Connection.Clayton Littlejohn - 2012 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Practical Reality.Jonathan Dancy - 2000 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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