Aaron Zimmerman presents a new pragmatist account of belief, in terms of information poised to guide our more attentive, controlled actions. And he explores the consequences of this account for our understanding of the relation between psychology and philosophy, the mind and brain, the nature of delusion, faith, pretence, racism, and more.
A wide-ranging study of the central concepts in epistemology - belief, truth and knowledge. Professor Armstrong offers a dispositional account of general beliefs and of knowledge of general propositions. Belief about particular matters of fact are described as structures in the mind of the believer which represent or 'map' reality, while general beliefs are dispositions to extend the 'map' or introduce casual relations between portions of the map according to general rules. 'Knowledge' denotes the reliability of such beliefs (...) as representations of reality. Within this framework Professor Armstrong offers a distinctive account of many of the main questions in general epistemology - the relations between beliefs and language, the notions of proposition, concept and idea, the analysis of truth, the varieties of knowledge, and the way in which beleifs and knowledge are supported by reasons. The book as a whole if offered as a contribution to a naturalistic account of man. (shrink)
This book develops and defends a theory of responsible belief. The author argues that we lack control over our beliefs, but that we can nonetheless influence them. It is because we have intellectual obligations to influence our beliefs that we are responsible for them.
It is impossible to hold patently contradictory beliefs in mind together at once. Why? Because we know that it is impossible for both to be true. This impossibility is a species of rational necessity, a phenomenon that uniquely characterizes the relation between one person's beliefs. Here, Eric Marcus argues that the unity of the rational mind--what makes it one mind--is what explains why, given what we already believe, we can't believe certain things and must believe certain others in this special (...) sense. What explains this is that beliefs, and the inferences by which we acquire them, are constituted by a particular kind of endorsement of those very states and acts. This, in turn, entails that belief and inference are essentially self-conscious: to hold a belief or to make an inference is at the same time to know that one does. An examination of the nature of belief and inference, in light of the phenomenon of rational necessity, reveals how the unity of the rational mind is a function of our knowledge of ourselves as bound to believe the true. Rational self-consciousness is the form of mental togetherness. (shrink)
The hypothesis that belief aims at the truth has been used to explain three features of belief: (1) the fact that correct beliefs are true beliefs, (2) the fact that rational beliefs are supported by the evidence and (3) the fact that we cannot form beliefs.
Belief and Meaning is a philosophical treatment of intentionality. It offers an original, logical and convincing account of intentional content which is local and contextual and which takes issues with standard theories of meaning.
Belief in Psychology tackles the knotty problem of how to treat the propositional attitudes states such as beliefs, desires, hopes and fears within cognitive science. Jay Garfield asserts that the propositional attitudes can and must play useful theoretical roles in the science of the mind and stresses the importance of their social context in this sophisticated and original argument.Garfield proposes his own alternative to the apparent dilemma of either scrapping the propositional attitudes or of making room for them within (...) a dimly foreseen, futuristic cognitive science. He provides a characterization of the nature of propositional attitudes conceived as psychological states, and of their role in cognitive science. They must, he argues, be understood as relations between their bearers and their environments, including, in the case of persons, their social and linguistic environments. Understanding them in this way is consonant with current practice in empirical cognitive science and provides a philosophically useful analysis of mental representation.Along the way, Garfield discusses the relationship between the enterprise of science and our commonsense conception of ourselves and the world, and the ways in which this relation constrains our understanding of the propositional attitudes, and illuminates a realistic interpretation of a psychology of representational states and processes. Belief in Psychology is the only book that adopts such a view, and it is unique in providing a sustained critique of eliminativism, instrumentalism, and computational individualism - the main competing proposals within philosophy of cognitive science for eliminating or reconciling propositional attitudes.Jay Garfield is Associate Professor of Philosophy in the School of Communications and Cognitive Science at Hampshire College and a co-director of the University of Massachusetts Cognitive Science Institute. He is a co-author of Cognitive Science: An Introduction and editor of Modularity in Knowledge Representation and Natural Language Understanding, both Bradford books. A Bradford Book. (shrink)
In this paper I defend the claim that justification is closed under conjunction, and confront its most alarming consequence – that one can have justification for believing propositions that are unlikely to be true, given one’s evidence.
This paper defends an account of full belief, including an account of its relationship to credence. Along the way, I address several familiar and difficult questions about belief. Does fully believing a proposition require having maximal confidence in it? Are rational beliefs closed under entailment, or does the preface paradox show that rational agents can believe inconsistent propositions? Does whether you believe a proposition depend partly on your practical interests? My account of belief resolves the tension between (...) conflicting answers to these questions that have been defended in the literature. In addition, my account complements fruitful probabilistic theories of assertion and knowledge. (shrink)
This book explains how the logic of theory change employs formal models in the investigation of changes in belief states and databases. The topics covered include equivalent characterizations of AGM operations, extended representations of the belief states, change operators not included in the original framework, iterated change, applications of the model, its connections with other formal frameworks, and criticism of the model.
Much of the literature on the relationship between belief and credence has focused on the reduction question: that is, whether either belief or credence reduces to the other. This debate, while important, only scratches the surface of the belief-credence connection. Even on the anti-reductive dualist view, belief and credence could still be very tightly connected. Here, I explore questions about the belief-credence connection that go beyond reduction. This paper is dedicated to what I call the (...) independence question: just how independent are belief and credence? I look at this question from two angles: a descriptive one (as a psychological matter, how much can belief and credence come apart?) and a normative one (for a rational person, how closely connected are belief and credence?) Ultimately, I suggest that the two attitudes are more independent than one might think. (shrink)
In this incisive new book one of Britain's most eminent philosophers explores the often overlooked tension between voluntariness and involuntariness in human cognition. He seeks to counter the widespread tendency for analytic epistemology to be dominated by the concept of belief. Is scientific knowledge properly conceived as being embodied, at its best, in a passive feeling of belief or in an active policy of acceptance? Should a jury's verdict declare what its members involuntarily believe or what they voluntarily (...) accept? And should statements and assertions be presumed to express what their authors believe or what they accept? Does such a distinction between belief and acceptance help to resolve the paradoxes of self-deception and akrasia? Must people be taken to believe everything entailed by what they believe, or merely to accept everything entailed by what they accept? Through a systematic examination of these problems, the author sheds new light on issues of crucial importance in contemporary epistemology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science. (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)
I explore how rational belief and rational credence relate to evidence. I begin by looking at three cases where rational belief and credence seem to respond differently to evidence: cases of naked statistical evidence, lotteries, and hedged assertions. I consider an explanation for these cases, namely, that one ought not form beliefs on the basis of statistical evidence alone, and raise worries for this view. Then, I suggest another view that explains how belief and credence relate to (...) evidence. My view focuses on the possibilities that the evidence makes salient. I argue that this makes better sense of the difference between rational credence and rational belief than other accounts. (shrink)
It can be demonstrated in a very straightforward way that confirmation and evidence as spelled out by us can vary from one case to the next, that is, a hypothesis may be weakly confirmed and yet the evidence for it can be strong, and conversely, the evidence may be weak and the confirmation strong. At first glance, this seems puzzling; the puzzlement disappears once it is understood that confirmation is of single hypotheses, in which there is an initial degree of (...)belief which is adjusted up or down as data accumulate, whereas evidence always has to do with a comparison of one hypothesis against another with respect to the data and is belief-independent. Confusing them is, we suggest, a plausible source of the so-called “base-rate fallacy” identified by Kahneman and Tversky which leads most of us to make mistaken statistical inferences. It is also in the background, or so we argue in some detail, of the important policy controversies concerning human-induced global warming. (shrink)
Defences of inference to the best explanation (IBE) frequently associate IBE with scientific realism, the idea that it is reasonable to believe our best scientific theories. I argue that this linkage is unfortunate. IBE does not warrant belief, since the fact that a theory is the best available explanation does not show it to be (even probably) true. What IBE does warrant is acceptance: taking a proposition as a premise in theoretical and/or practical reasoning. We ought to accept our (...) best scientific theories since they are the theories that are most likely to lead to the goal of science, which is that of knowledge. In support of this claim I invoke Bill Lycan's Panglossian reflections regarding Mother Nature.1. (shrink)
I set out an argument for religious fictionalism which, unusually, proceeds from realist assumptions to the conclusion that even though some people might know that God exists, others ought to accept only non-doxastically that God exists. The argument relies upon the idea that religious experiences can confer immediate warrant on religious beliefs, whereas the warrant conferred by testimony is defeated by some reasonable beliefs which many people have.
On the basis of impossibility results on probability, belief revision, and conditionals, it is argued that conditional beliefs differ from beliefs in conditionals qua mental states. Once this is established, it will be pointed out in what sense conditional beliefs are still conditional, even though they may lack conditional contents, and why it is permissible to still regard them as beliefs, although they are not beliefs in conditionals. Along the way, the main logical, dispositional, representational, and normative properties of (...) conditional beliefs are studied, and it is explained how the failure of not distinguishing conditional beliefs from beliefs in conditionals can lead philosophical and empirical theories astray. (shrink)
This is a unique collection of new and recently-published articles which debate the merits of virtue-theoretic approaches to the core epistemological issues of knowledge and justified belief. The readings all contribute to our understanding of the relative importance, for a theory of justified belief, of the reliability of our cognitive faculties and of the individuals responsibility in gathering and weighing evidence. Highlights of the readings include direct exchanges between leading exponents of this approach and their critics.
I clarify and defend the hypothesis that human belief formation is sensitive to social rewards and punishments, such that beliefs are sometimes formed based on unconscious expectations of their likely effects on other agents – agents who frequently reward us when we hold ungrounded beliefs and punish us when we hold reasonable ones. After clarifying this phenomenon and distinguishing it from other sources of bias in the psychological literature, I argue that the hypothesis is plausible on theoretical grounds and (...) I show how it illuminates and unifies a range of psychological phenomena, including confabulation and rationalisation, positive illusions, and identity-protective cognition. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the relationship between belief and credence is a central question in epistemology. This is because the belief-credence relationship has significant implications for a number of current epistemological issues. I focus on five controversies: permissivism, disagreement, pragmatic encroachment, doxastic voluntarism, and the relationship between doxastic attitudes and prudential rationality. I argue that each debate is constrained in particular ways, depending on whether the relevant attitude is belief or credence. This means that epistemologists (...) should pay attention to whether they are framing questions in terms of belief or in terms of credence and the success or failure of a reductionist project in the belief-credence realm has significant implications for epistemology generally. (shrink)
This study examines whether religious belief influences an entrepreneur’s political involvement and further explores the moderating role of corporate philanthropy. Using the data from the 2008 national survey of Chinese family firms, my study provides strong evidence to show that the likelihood of political involvement is significantly higher for entrepreneurs with religious beliefs than for their counterparts, suggesting that religious entrepreneurs in Chinese family firms are more likely to participate in political affairs. This finding echoes the view that religious (...) believers acquire civic skills through their associational memberships or experience in involving religious activities. In addition, corporate philanthropy attenuates the positive association between religious belief and political involvement. The above findings are robust to a variety of sensitivity tests and are still valid after controlling for the potential endogeneity between political involvement and religious belief. (shrink)
Philosophers commonly say that beliefs come in degrees. Drawing from the literature, I make precise three arguments for this claim: an argument from degrees of confidence, an argument from degrees of firmness, and an argument from natural language. I show that they all fail. I also advance three arguments that beliefs do not come in degrees: an argument from natural language, an argument from intuition, and an argument from the metaphysics of degrees. On the basis of these arguments, I conclude (...) that beliefs do not come in degrees. (shrink)
Some of the topics presented in this volume of original essays on contemporary approaches to belief include the problem of misrepresentation and false belief, conscious versus unconscious belief, explicit versus tacit belief, and the durable versus ephemeral question of the nature of belief. The contributors, Fred Dretske, Keith Lehrer, William Lycan, Stephen Schiffer, Stephen P. Stich, and the editor, Radu Bogdan, focus on the mental realization of belief, its cognitive and behavioral aspects, and the (...) semantic aspects of its content. This interdisciplinary study takes advantage of many new theories in what has become an important area of research. (shrink)
I examine three attitudes: belief, faith, and hope. I argue that all three attitudes play the same role in rationalizing action. First, I explain two models of rational action—the decision-theory model and the belief-desire model. Both models entail there are two components of rational action: an epistemic component and a conative component. Then, using this framework, I show how belief, faith, and hope that p can all make it rational to accept, or act as if, p. I (...) conclude by showing how my picture can explain how action-oriented commitments can be rational over time, both in the face of counterevidence and in the face of waning affections. (shrink)
Belief-credence dualism is the view that we have both beliefs and credences and neither attitude is reducible to the other. Pragmatic encroachment is the view that practical stakes can affect the epistemic rationality of states like knowledge or justified belief. In this paper, I argue that dualism offers a unique explanation of pragmatic encroachment cases. First, I explain pragmatic encroachment and what motivates it. Then, I explain dualism and outline a particular argument for dualism. Finally, I show how (...) dualism can explain the intuitions that underlie pragmatic encroachment. My basic proposal is that in high-stakes cases, it is not that one cannot rationally believe that p; instead, one ought not to rely on one's belief that p. One should rather rely on one's credence in p. I conclude that we need not commit ourselves to pragmatic encroachment in order to explain the intuitiveness of the cases that motivate it. (shrink)
If you’re familiar with Tolkien’s The Hobbit I don’t need to tell you that Mirkwood is a dangerous place. As bad as we might feel for Thorin and company as they try to navigate the forest and fall prey to its traps, we should feel worse for ourselves. Our world is also dangerous and difficult, but in a different way. Although it’s some comfort that the spiders of our world are smaller, it is easier to travel through Mirkwood than it (...) is to know what to believe. At least when it comes to navigating Mirkwood the directions are clear. (shrink)
Mental content and the problem of De Se belief -- Cognitive attitudes and content -- The doctrine of propositions -- The problem of De Se belief -- The property theory of content -- In favor of the property theory -- Perry's messy shopper and the argument from explanation -- Lewis's case of the two Gods -- Arguments from internalism and physicalism -- An inference to the best explanation -- Alternatives to the property theory -- The triadic view of (...)belief -- How the property theory and the triadic view are rivals -- Dyadic propositionalism reconsidered -- Arguments against the property theory -- Self-ascription and self-awareness -- Nonexistence and impossible contents -- Stalnaker's argument -- Propositionalist arguments from inference -- The property theory and De Re belief -- Lewis's account of De Re belief -- McKay's objection to Lewis -- Mistaken identity and the case of the shy secret admirer -- Some other worries and concluding remarks -- The property theory, rationality, and Kripke's puzzle about belief -- Kripke's puzzle about belief -- The puzzle argument -- A solution to the puzzle -- Puzzles with empty names and kind terms -- The property theory, twin earth, and belief about kinds -- Twin earth and two kinds of internalism -- The twin earth argument -- An internalist response (stage one) -- An internalist response (stage two) -- Self-ascription and belief about kinds. (shrink)
The traditional puzzles about belief reports puzzles rest on a certain seemingly innocuous assumption, that 'that'-clauses specify belief contents. The main theories of belief reports 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 belief reports. But this approach must confront a puzzle of its own: it turns out that every case is a Paderewski case, at least potentially. (shrink)
We care what people think of us. The thesis that beliefs wrong, although compelling, can sound ridiculous. The norms that properly govern belief are plausibly epistemic norms such as truth, accuracy, and evidence. Moral and prudential norms seem to play no role in settling the question of whether to believe p, and they are irrelevant to answering the question of what you should believe. This leaves us with the question: can we wrong one another by virtue of what we (...) believe about each other? Can beliefs wrong? In this introduction, I present a brief summary of the articles that make up this special issue. The aim is to direct readers to open avenues for future research by highlighting questions and challenges that are far from being settled. These papers shouldn’t be taken as the last word on the subject. Rather, they mark the beginning of a serious exploration into a set of questions that concern the morality of belief, i.e., doxastic morality. (shrink)
This paper explores the sense in which belief "aims at the truth". In this course of this exploration, it discusses the difference between belief and make-believe, the nature of psychoanalytic explanation, the supposed "normativity of meaning", and related topics.
This paper assumes that success on false-belief tasks requires a kind of folk psychological know-how, i.e. gradable knowledge how to perform skilful social cognitive acts. Following Ryle, it argues the folk psychological know-how required for success on a false-belief task cannot be reduced to conceptual knowledge as this would lead to an infinite regress. Within the skilled performance literature, Intellectualists have attempted to solve Ryle’s regress by appealing to automatic mechanisms similar in kind to some Theory-of-Mind explanations of (...) folk psychology. Exploring this similarity, the paper examines the epistemic commitments of two recent pragmatic Theory-of-Mind accounts of cross-cultural false-belief task data. By drawing on Fridland’s argument against Intellectualist explanations of know-how, it is argued that neither of these pragmatic Theory-of-Mind accounts can adequately explain gradable folk psychological know-how and escape Ryle’s infinite regress objection if these accounts are indeed committed to Intellectualism. The paper ends by supplementing Fenici’s account with the enactive framework to both bolster Fenici’s explanation of false-belief task know-how and avoid Ryle’s regress objection. (shrink)
A theory of radical interpretation gives the meanings of all sentences of a language, and can be verified by evidence available to someone who does not understand the language. Such evidence cannot include detailed information concerning the beliefs and intentions of speakers, and therefore the theory must simultaneously interpret the utterances of speakers and specify (some of) his beliefs. Analogies and connections with decision theory suggest the kind of theory that will serve for radical interpretation, and how permissible evidence can (...) support it. (shrink)
Michael Ridge presents an original expressivist theory of normative judgments--Ecumenical Expressivism--which offers distinctive treatments of key problems in metaethics, semantics, and practical reasoning. He argues that normative judgments are hybrid states partly constituted by ordinary beliefs and partly constituted by desire-like states.
It is argued that the intuitively sanctioned distinction between beliefs and non-belief states that play a role in the proximate causal history of beliefs is a distinction worth preserving in cognitive psychology. The intuitive distinction is argued to rest on a pair of features exhibited by beliefs but not by subdoxastic states. These are access to consciousness and inferential integration. Harman's view, which denies the distinction between beliefs and subdoxastic states, is discussed and criticized.
It is tempting to posit an intimate relationship between belief and assertion. The speech act of assertion seems like a way of transferring the speaker’s belief to his or her audience. If this is right, then you might think that the evidential warrant required for asserting a proposition is just the same as the warrant for believing it. We call this thesis entitlement equality. We argue here that entitlement equality is false, because our everyday notion of belief (...) is unambiguously a weak one. Believing something is true, we argue, is compatible with having relatively little confidence in it. Asserting something requires something closer to complete confidence. Specifically, we argue that believing a proposition merely requires thinking it likely, but that thinking that a proposition is likely does not entitle one to assert it. This conclusion conflict with a standard view that ‘full belief’ is the central commonsense non-factive attitude. (shrink)
This paper compares two alternative explanations of pragmatic encroachment on knowledge (i.e., the claim that whether an agent knows that p can depend on pragmatic factors). After reviewing the evidence for such pragmatic encroachment, we ask how it is best explained, assuming it obtains. Several authors have recently argued that the best explanation is provided by a particular account of belief, which we call pragmatic credal reductivism. On this view, what it is for an agent to believe a proposition (...) is for her credence in this proposition to be above a certain threshold, a threshold that varies depending on pragmatic factors. We show that while this account of belief can provide an elegant explanation of pragmatic encroachment on knowledge, it is not alone in doing so, for an alternative account of belief, which we call the reasoning disposition account, can do so as well. And the latter account, we argue, is far more plausible than pragmatic credal reductivism, since it accords far better with a number of claims about belief that are very hard to deny. (shrink)
Radical moral encroachment is the view that belief itself is morally evaluable, and that some moral properties of belief itself make a difference to epistemic rationality. To date, almost all proponents of radical moral encroachment hold to an asymmetry thesis: the moral encroaches on rational belief, but not on rational credence. In this paper, we argue against the asymmetry thesis; we show that, insofar as one accepts the most prominent arguments for radical moral encroachment on belief, (...) one should likewise accept radical moral encroachment on credence. We outline and reject potential attempts to establish a basis for asymmetry between the attitude types. Then, we explore the merits and demerits of the two available responses to our symmetry claim: (i) embracing moral encroachment on credence and (ii) denying moral encroachment on belief. (shrink)
We distinguish between two categories of belief—thin belief and thick belief—and provide evidence that they approximate genuinely distinct categories within folk psychology. We use the distinction to make informative predictions about how laypeople view the relationship between knowledge and belief. More specifically, we show that if the distinction is genuine, then we can make sense of otherwise extremely puzzling recent experimental findings on the entailment thesis (i.e. the widely held philosophical thesis that knowledge entails belief). (...) We also suggest that the distinction can be applied to debates in the philosophy of mind and metaethics. (shrink)
Delusions are a common symptom of schizophrenia and dementia. Though most English dictionaries define a delusion as a false opinion or belief, there is currently a lively debate about whether delusions are really beliefs and indeed, whether they are even irrational. The book is an interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of delusions. It brings together the psychological literature on the aetiology and the behavioural manifestations of delusions, and the philosophical literature on belief ascription and rationality. The thesis of (...) the book is that delusions are continuous with ordinary beliefs, a thesis that could have important theoretical and practical implications for psychiatric classification and the clinical treatment of subjects with delusions. By bringing together recent work in philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology and psychiatry, the book offers a comprehensive review of the philosophical issues raised by the psychology of normal and abnormal cognition, defends the doxastic conception of delusions, and develops a theory about the role of judgements of rationality and of attributions of self-knowledge in belief ascription. Presenting a highly original analysis of the debate on the nature of delusions, this book will interest philosophers of mind, epistemologists, philosophers of science, cognitive scientists, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals. (shrink)
This paper argues for two theses: that degrees of belief are context sensitive; that outright belief is belief to degree 1. The latter thesis is rejected quickly in most discussions of the relationship between credence and belief, but the former thesis undermines the usual reasons for doing so. Furthermore, identifying belief with credence 1 allows nice solutions to a number of problems for the most widely-held view of the relationship between credence and belief, the (...) threshold view. I provide a sketch of a formal framework on which both theses are true. This is a modified Bayesian framework; I argue that despite making credences context-sensitive, the framework lets Bayesians hold on to their signature explanatory successes. The sort of context-sensitivity claimed for credences here mirrors the sort of context-sensitivity I have elsewhere claimed for outright belief: one's credences depend, in part, on the space of alternative possibilities one takes seriously in a context. (shrink)
Belief is a central focus of inquiry in the philosophy of religion and indeed in the field of religion itself. No one conception of belief is central in all these cases, and sometimes the term 'belief' is used where 'faith' or 'acceptance' would better express what is intended. This paper sketches the major concepts in the philosophy of religion that are expressed by these three terms. In doing so, it distinguishes propositional belief (belief that) from (...) both objectual belief (believing something to have a property) and, more importantly, belief in (a trusting attitude that is illustrated by at least many paradigm cases of belief in God). Faith is shown to have a similar complexity, and even propositional faith divides into importantly different categories. Acceptance differs from both belief and faith in that at least one kind of acceptance is behavioral in a way neither of the other two elements is. Acceptance of a proposition, it is argued, does not entail believing it, nor does believing entail acceptance in any distinctive sense of the latter term. In characterizing these three notions (and related ones), the paper provides some basic materials important both for understanding a person's religious position and for appraising its rationality. The nature of religious faith and some of the conditions for its rationality, including some deriving from elements of an ethics of belief, are explored in some detail. (shrink)