In this paper, I defend a well-known theory of belief reports from an important objection. The theory is Russellianism, sometimes also called `neo-Russellianism', `Millianism', `the direct reference theory', `the "Fido"-Fido theory', or `the naive theory'. The objection concernssubstitution of co-referring names in belief sentences. Russellianism implies that any two belief sentences, that differ only in containing distinct co-referring names, express the same proposition (in any given context). Since `Hesperus' and `Phosphorus' both refer to the planet Venus, this (...) view implies that all utterances of (1) and.. (shrink)
False belief tasks have enjoyed a monopoly in the research on children?s development of a theory of mind. They have been granted this status because they promise to deliver an unambiguous assessment of children?s understanding of the representational nature of mental states. Their poor cousins, true belief tasks, have been relegated to occasional service as control tasks. That this is their only role has been due to the universal assumption that correct answers on true belief tasks are (...) inherently ambiguous regarding the level of the child?s understanding of mental states. It has also been due to the universal assumption that nothing in the child?s developing theory of mind would lead to systematically incorrect answers on true belief tasks. We review new findings that 4- and 5- year -olds do err, systematically and profoundly, on the true belief versions of all the extant belief tasks. This reveals an intermediate level of understanding in the development of children?s theory of mind. Researchers have been unaware of this intermediate level because it produces correct answers in false belief tasks. A simple two- task battery?one true belief task and one false belief task?is sufficient to remove the ambiguity from each task. The new findings show that children do not acquire an understanding of beliefs, and hence a representational theory of mind, until after 6 years of age, or 2 years later than most developmental psychologists have concluded. This raises the question of how to interpret other new findings that infants are able to pass false belief tasks. We review these new infant studies, as well as recent studies on chimpanzees, in light of older children?s failure on true belief tasks, and end with some speculation about how all of these new findings might be reconciled. (shrink)
Why, when asking oneself whether to believe that p, must one immediately recognize that this question is settled by, and only by, answering the question whether p is true? Truth is not an optional end for first-personal doxastic deliberation, providing an instrumental or extrinsic reason that an agent may take or leave at will. Otherwise there would be an inferential step between discovering the truth with respect to p and determining whether to believe that p, involving a bridge premise that (...) it is good (in whichever sense of good one likes, moral, prudential, aesthetic, allthings-considered, etc.) to believe the truth with respect to p. But there is no such gap between the two questions within the first-personal deliberative perspective; the question whether to believe that p seems to collapse into the question whether p is true. (shrink)
Religious beliefs are often singled out for special treatment in secular liberal societies. Yet if a legal exemption is granted for a belief with a religious foundation, the question arises whether a similar, non‐religious moral belief must also be granted an exemption. I argue that common reasons for favoring religious over non‐religious beliefs fail to provide a convincing moral case for drawing a distinction of this nature. I focus on arguments concerning the role of religious beliefs in constituting (...) an individual's identity and the transcendental nature of religion, which lead me to consider in the final section the role of choice in religious belief. (shrink)
Why, when asking oneself whether to believe that p, must one immediately recognize that this question is settled by, and only by, answering the question whether p is true? Truth is not an optional end for first-personal doxastic deliberation, providing an instrumental or extrinsic reason that an agent may take or leave at will. Otherwise there would be an inferential step between discovering the truth with respect to p and determining whether to believe that p, involving a bridge premise that (...) it is good to believe the truth with respect to p. But there is no such gap between the two questions within the first-personal deliberative perspective; the question whether to believe that p seems to collapse into the question whether p is true. (shrink)
Unfortunately, the book's weaknesses outweigh its strengths. Chief among the weaknesses is its spotty attention to relevant and important literature, both historical and contemporary. Even though Helm writes at length about assent, and even though he discusses Augustine, he completely ignores John Henry Newman, whose Grammar of Assent deserves at least a mention. Helm devotes more than a chapter to the relation between belief and the will and another chapter to fideism, yet he never mentions Louis Pojman's arguments in (...) Religious Belief and the Will, an analytic-philosophical treatment of exactly those issues. He attacks evidentialism without confronting the most important defenses of that view, such as those offered in Feldman and Conee's "Evidentialism." He asserts the possibility of self-contradictory beliefs without considering the reasons offered by possible-worlds theorists and others for denying that a self-contradictory proposition can be a relatum in the belief relation. He simply asserts that "[n]o obligations follow logically from facts", without any indication that such a claim is both highly controversial and the focus of an enormous, decades-old literature. (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)
Belief normativism is roughly the view that judgments about beliefs are normative judgments. Kathrin Glüer and Åsa Wikforss suggest that there are two ways one could defend this view: by appeal to what might be called ‘truth-norms’, or by appeal to what might be called ‘norms of rationality’ or ‘epistemic norms’. According to G&W, whichever way the normativist takes, she ends up being unable to account for the idea that the norms in question would guide belief formation. Plausibly, (...) if belief normativism were true, the relevant norms would have to offer such guidance. I argue that G&W’s case against belief normativism is not successful. In section 1, I defend the idea that truth-norms can guide belief formation indirectly via epistemic norms. In section 2, I outline an account of how the epistemic norms might guide belief. Interestingly, this account may involve a commitment to a certain kind of expressivist view concerning judgments about epistemic norms. (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)
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)
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)
It seems uncontroversial that Dalton wrongly believed that atoms are indivisible. However, the correct analysis of Dalton’s belief and the way it relates to contemporary beliefs about atoms is, on closer inspection, far from straightforward. In this paper, I introduce four features that any candidate analysis is plausibly bound to respect. I argue that theories that individuate concepts at the level of understanding are doomed to fail in this endeavor. I formally sketch an alternative and suggest that cases such (...) as the one presented provide support for the claim that the genuine source for concept individuation is public sharable thought. (shrink)
The principle of compositionality claims that the content of a complex concept is determined by its constituent concepts and the way in which they are composed. However, for prototype concepts this principle is often too rigid. Blurring the division between conceptual composition and belief update has therefore been suggested. Inspired by this idea, we develop a normative account of how belief revision and meaning composition should interact in modifications such as “red apple” or “pet hamster”. We do this (...) by combining the well-known selective modification model :485–527 1988) with the rules of Bayesian belief update. Moreover, we relate this model to systems of defeasible reasoning as discussed in the field of artificial intelligence. (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 stakes alone 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-stake 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)
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)
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)
Is propositional religious faith constituted by belief? Recent debate has focussed on whether faith may be constituted by a positive non-doxastic cognitive state, which can stand in place of belief. This paper sets out and defends the doxastic theory. We consider and reject three arguments commonly used in favour of non-doxastic theories of faith: (1) the argument from religious doubt; (2) the use of ‘faith’ in linguistic utterances; and (3) the possibility of pragmatic faith. We argue that (...) class='Hi'>belief is required to maintain a distinction between genuine faith, pretend faith, and fictionalist faith. (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)
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)
Most work in Kant’s epistemology focuses on what happens “upstream” from experience, prior to the formation of conscious propositional attitudes. By contrast, this essay focuses on what happens "downstream": the formation of assent (Fuerwahrhalten) in its various modes. The mode of assent that Kant calls "Belief" (Glaube) is the main topic: not only moral Belief but also "pragmatic" and "doctrinal" Belief as well. I argue that Kant’s discussion shows that we should reject standard accounts of the extent (...) to which theoretical reason can provide justified assent about things-in-themselves, in favor of one that is much more liberal. Interpretive benefits are not the only results of the discussion, however. I also hope it will become clear along the way that there is such a thing as Kantian Belief, and that we often have quite a lot of it. -/- . (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)
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)
In this article, I argue that faith’s going beyond the evidence need not compromise faith’s epistemic rationality. First, I explain how some of the recent literature on belief and credence points to a distinction between what I call B-evidence and C-evidence. Then, I apply this distinction to rational faith. I argue that if faith is more sensitive to B-evidence than to C-evidence, faith can go beyond the evidence and still be epistemically rational.
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 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)
Does belief have an aim? According to the claim of exclusivity, non-truth-directed considerations cannot motivate belief within doxastic deliberation. This claim has been used to argue that, far from aiming at truth, belief is not aim-directed at all, because the regulation of belief fails to exhibit a kind of interaction among aims that is characteristic of ordinary aim-directed behaviour. The most prominent reply to this objection has been offered by Steglich-Petersen (Philos Stud 145:395–405, 2009), who claims (...) that exclusivity is in fact compatible with belief’s genuinely having an aim. I argue, based on consideration of what is involved in pursuing an aim, that Steglich-Petersen’s reply fails. I suggest that the defender of the idea that belief has an aim should instead reject the claim of exclusivity, and I sketch how this can be done. (shrink)
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.
Nicholas Wolterstorff discusses the ethics of belief which Locke developed in Book IV of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, where Locke finally argued his overarching aim: how we ought to govern our belief, especially on matters of religion and morality. Wolterstorff shows that this concern was instigated by the collapse, in Locke's day, of a once-unified moral and religious tradition in Europe into warring factions. His was thus a culturally and socially engaged epistemology. This view of Locke invites (...) a new interpretation of the origins of modern philosophy. He maintained that instead of following tradition we ought to let 'reason be our guide.' Accordingly, after discussing Hume's powerful attack on Locke's recommended practice, Wolterstorff argues for Locke's originality and emphasizes his contribution to the 'modernity' of post-sixteenth-century philosophy. (shrink)
Neither full belief nor partial belief is more fundamental, ontologically speaking. A survey of some relevant cognitive psychology supports a dualist ontology instead. Beliefs come in two kinds, categorical and graded, neither more fundamental than the other. In particular, the graded kind is no more fundamental. When we discuss belief in on/off terms, we are not speaking coarsely or informally about states that are ultimately credal.
We have argued against the thesis that content is essentially normative (Glüer & Wikforss 2009). In the course of doing so, we also presented some considerations against the thesis that belief is essentially normative. In this paper we clarify and develop these considerations, thereby paving the road for a fully non-normative account of the nature of belief.
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.
“Mad belief” (in analogy with Lewisian “mad pain”) would be a belief state with none of the causal role characteristic of belief—a state not caused or apt to have been caused by any of the sorts of events that usually cause belief and involving no disposition toward the usual behavioral or other manifestations of belief. On token-functionalist views of belief, mad belief in this sense is conceptually impossible. Cases of delusion—or at least some (...) cases of delusion—might be cases of belief gone half-mad, cases in which enough of the functional role characteristic of belief is absent that the subject is in an “in-between” state regarding the delusive content, such that it is neither quite right to say the subject determinately believes the delusive content nor quite right to say that she determinately fails to believe that content. Although Bortolotti (2010) briefly mentions such “sliding scale” approaches to the relationship of delusion and belief, she dismisses such approaches on rather thin grounds and then later makes some remarks that seem consonant with sliding scale approaches. (shrink)
One of the deepest ideological divides in contemporary epistemology concerns the relative importance of belief versus credence. A prominent consideration in favor of credence-based epistemology is the ease with which it appears to account for rational action. In contrast, cases with risky payoff structures threaten to break the link between rational belief and rational action. This threat poses a challenge to traditional epistemology, which maintains the theoretical prominence of belief. The core problem, we suggest, is that (...) class='Hi'>belief may not be enough to register all aspects of a subject’s epistemic position with respect to any given proposition. We claim this problem can be solved by introducing other doxastic attitudes—genuine representations—that differ in strength from belief. The resulting alternative picture, a kind of doxastic states pluralism, retains the central features of traditional epistemology—most saliently, an emphasis on truth as a kind of objective accuracy—while adequately accounting for rational action. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the rejection of doxastic voluntarism is not as straightforward as its opponents take it to be. I begin with a critical examination of William Alston's defense of involuntarism and then focus on the question of whether belief is intentional.
The Bayesian maxim for rational learning could be described as conservative change from one probabilistic belief or credence function to another in response to newinformation. Roughly: ‘Hold fixed any credences that are not directly affected by the learning experience.’ This is precisely articulated for the case when we learn that some proposition that we had previously entertained is indeed true (the rule of conditionalisation). But can this conservative-change maxim be extended to revising one’s credences in response to entertaining propositions (...) or concepts of which one was previously unaware? The economists Karni and Vierø (2013, 2015) make a proposal in this spirit. Philosophers have adopted effectively the same rule: revision in response to growing awareness should not affect the relative probabilities of propositions in one’s ‘old’ epistemic state. The rule is compelling, but only under the assumptions that its advocates introduce. It is not a general requirement of rationality, or so we argue. We provide informal counterexamples. And we show that, when awareness grows, the boundary between one’s ‘old’ and ‘new’ epistemic commitments is blurred. Accordingly, there is no general notion of conservative change in this setting. (shrink)
Relocating Kripke's puzzle about belief, this paper investigates i) in what the puzzle consists, exactly; ii) the method used in its construction; and iii) relations between meaning and rationality. Essential to Kripke's puzzle is a normative notion of contradictory belief. Different positions about the meaning of names yield different views of what constitutes the attribution of contradictory belief; and Kripke's puzzle unwittingly _imports a Millian assumption. Accordingly, the puzzle about belief is not independent of positions about (...) the meaning of names. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have argued that it is hard for finite agents like us to reason and make decisions relying solely on our credences and preferences. They hold that for us to cope with our cognitive limitations, we need binary beliefs as well. For they think that such beliefs, by disposing us to treat certain propositions as true, help us cut down on the number of possibilities we need to consider when we reason. But using Ross and Schroeder as (...) my stalking horse, I argue that such an appeal to binary beliefs does not work. I begin by explaining why there’s supposedly a problem for an account of reasoning that invokes only credences and preferences. I then argue that Ross and Schroeder’s account of belief—as well as other similar accounts—does not help solve the problem. Finally, I consider an alternative approach to solving the problem. This approach, unlike the accounts I criticise, does not hold that having a disposition to treat a proposition as true is necessary for believing it. (shrink)
ABSTRACT A belief is correct if and only if the believed proposition is true. Some philosophers argued that from this standard of correctness it is possible to derive the statement of a norm, a claim about what a subject ought to do. Many formulations of the standard in terms of an ‘ought’-claim have been suggested, but all resulted affected by some problem. My aim in this article is to suggest a new formulation of the standard in ‘ought’-terms based on (...) an analysis of the relations occurring between the notions of correctness and ‘ought’. My suggested formulation is that, for any subject S and proposition p, according to the standard of correctness, given that S believes that p, it ought to be that p. (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)
It is common to hear talk of the aim of belief and to find philosophers appealing to that aim for numerous explanatory purposes. What belief 's aim explains depends, of course, on what that aim is. Many hold that it is somehow related to truth, but there are various ways in which one might specify belief 's aim using the notion of truth. In this article, by considering whether they can account for belief 's standard of (...) correctness and the epistemic norms governing belief, I argue against certain prominent specifications of belief 's aim given in terms of truth, and advance a neglected alternative. (shrink)
ABSTRACTMany discussions of the ‘preface paradox’ assume that it is more troubling for deductive closure constraints on rational belief if outright belief is reducible to credence. I show that this is an error: we can generate the problem without assuming such reducibility. All that we need are some very weak normative assumptions about rational relationships between belief and credence. The only view that escapes my way of formulating the problem for the deductive closure constraint is in fact (...) itself a reductive view: namely, the view that outright belief is credence 1. However, I argue that this view is unsustainable. Moreover, my version of the problem turns on no particular theory of evidence or evidential probability, and so cannot be avoided by adopting some revisionary such theory. In sum, deductive closure is in more serious, and more general, trouble than some have thought. (shrink)
People sometimes explain behavior by appealing to an essentialist concept of the self, often referred to as the true self. Existing studies suggest that people tend to believe that the true self is morally virtuous; that is deep inside, every person is motivated to behave in morally good ways. Is this belief particular to individuals with optimistic beliefs or people from Western cultures, or does it reflect a widely held cognitive bias in how people understand the self? To address (...) this question, we tested the good true self theory against two potential boundary conditions that are known to elicit different beliefs about the self as a whole. Study 1 tested whether individual differences in misanthropy—the tendency to view humans negatively—predict beliefs about the good true self in an American sample. The results indicate a consistent belief in a good true self, even among individuals who have an explicitly pessimistic view of others. Study 2 compared true self-attributions across cultural groups, by comparing samples from an independent country and a diverse set of interdependent countries. Results indicated that the direction and magnitude of the effect are comparable across all groups we tested. The belief in a good true self appears robust across groups varying in cultural orientation or misanthropy, suggesting a consistent psychological tendency to view the true self as morally good. (shrink)
Many of our beliefs behave irrationally: this is hardly news to anyone. Although beliefs’ irrational tendencies need to be taken into account, this paper argues that beliefs necessarily preserve at least a minimal level of rationality. This view offers a plausible picture of what makes belief unique and will help us to set beliefs apart from other cognitive attitudes.
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.