Sometimes epistemologists theorize about belief, a tripartite attitude on which one can believe, withhold belief, or disbelieve a proposition. In other cases, epistemologists theorize about credence, a fine-grained attitude that represents one’s subjective probability or confidence level toward a proposition. How do these two attitudes relate to each other? This article explores the relationship between belief and credence in two categories: descriptive and normative. It then explains the broader significance of the belief-credence connection and concludes with general lessons from the (...) debate thus far. (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)
Permissivism is the view that there are evidential situations that rationally permit more than one attitude toward a proposition. In this paper, I argue for Intrapersonal Belief Permissivism (IaBP): that there are evidential situations in which a single agent can rationally adopt more than one belief-attitude toward a proposition. I give two positive arguments for IaBP; the first involves epistemic supererogation and the second involves doubt. Then, I should how these arguments give intrapersonal permissivists a distinct response to the toggling (...) objection. I conclude that IaBP is a view that philosophers should take seriously. (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 paper explains and defends a belief-first view of the relationship between belief and credence. On this view, credences are a species of beliefs, and the degree of credence is determined by the content of what is believed. We begin by developing what we take to be the most plausible belief-first view. Then, we offer several arguments for it. Finally, we show how it can resist objections that have been raised to belief-first views. We conclude that the belief-first view is (...) more plausible than many have previously supposed. (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)
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)
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 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.
Many think that Pascal’s Wager is a hopeless failure. A primary reason for this is because a number of challenging objections have been raised to the wager, including the “many gods” objection and the “mixed strategy” objection. We argue that both objections are formal, but not substantive, problems for the wager, and that they both fail for the same reason. We then respond to additional objections to the wager. We show how a version of Pascalian reasoning succeeds, giving us a (...) reason to pay special attention to the infinite consequences of our actions. (shrink)
Permissivism is the thesis that, for some body of evidence and a proposition p, there is more than one rational doxastic attitude any agent with that evidence can take toward p. Proponents of uniqueness deny permissivism, maintaining that every body of evidence always determines a single rational doxastic attitude. In this paper, we explore the debate between permissivism and uniqueness about evidence, outlining some of the major arguments on each side. We then consider how permissivism can be understood as an (...) underdetermination thesis, and show how this moves the debate forward in fruitful ways: in distinguishing between different types of permissivism, in dispelling classic objections to permissivism, and in shedding light on the relationship between permissivism and evidentialism. (shrink)
A popular objection to theistic commitment involves the idea that faith is irrational. Specifically, some seem to put forth something like the following argument: (P1) Everyone (or almost everyone) who has faith is epistemically irrational, (P2) All theistic believers have faith, thus (C) All (or most) theistic believers are epistemically irrational. In this paper, I argue that this line of reasoning fails. I do so by considering a number of candidates for what faith might be. I argue that, for each (...) candidate, either (P1) is false or (P2) is false. Then, I make two positive suggestions for how faith can be epistemically rational but nonetheless have a unique relationship to evidence: one, that Jamesian self-justifying attitudes describe a distinctive kind of faith in oneself and others, and two, that faith is not solely based on empirical evidence. (shrink)
This paper introduces and motivates a solution to a dilemma from peer disagreement. Following Buchak (2021), I argue that peer disagreement puts us in an epistemic dilemma: there is reason to think that our opinions should both change and not change when we encounter disagreement with our epistemic peers. I argue that we can solve this dilemma by changing our credences, but not our beliefs in response to disagreement. I explain how my view solves the dilemma in question, and then (...) offer two additional arguments for it: one related to contents and attitudes, and another related to epistemic peerhood. (shrink)
In Unsettled Thoughts, Julia Staffel argues that non-ideal thinkers should seek to approximate ideal Bayesian rationality. She argues that the more rational you are, the more benefits of rationality you will enjoy. After summarizing Staffel's main results, this paper looks more closely at two issues that arise later in the book: the relationship between Bayesian rationality and other kinds of rationality, and the role that outright belief plays in addition to credence. Ultimately, I argue that there are several roles that (...) outright belief might play, and I explore different ways that these roles for belief might fit together. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between taking Pascal’s wager, faith, and hope. First, I argue that many who take Pascal’s wager have genuine faith that God exists. The person of faith and the wagerer have several things in common, including a commitment to God and positive cognitive and conative attitudes toward God’s existence. I also argue that if one’s credences in theism are too low to have faith, the wagerer can still hope that God exists, another commitment-justifying theological virtue. I (...) consider two upshots of my argument, including how my picture provides responses to common objections to Pascal’s wager. (shrink)
A question of recent interest in epistemology and philosophy of mind is how belief and credence relate to each other. A number of philosophers argue for a belief-first view of the relationship between belief and credence. On the belief-first view, what it is to have a credence just is to have a particular kind of belief, that is, a belief whose content involves probabilities or epistemic modals. Here, I argue against the belief-first view: specifically, I argue that it cannot account (...) for agents who have credences in propositions they barely comprehend. I conclude that, however credences differ from beliefs, they do not differ in virtue of adding additional content to the believed proposition. (shrink)
I defend belief-credence dualism, the view that we have both beliefs and credences and both attitudes are equally fundamental. First, I explain belief, credence, and three views on their relationship. Then, I argue for dualism. I do so first by painting a picture of the mind on which belief and credence are two cognitive tools that we use for different purposes. Finally, I respond to two objections to dualism. I conclude that dualism is a promising view, and one that both (...) epistemologists and philosophers of mind should take seriously. (shrink)
J.L. Schellenberg argues that divine hiddenness provides an argument for the conclusion that God does not exist, for if God existed he would not allow non-resistant non-belief to occur, but non-resistant non-belief does occur, so God does not exist. In this paper, I argue that the stakes involved in theistic considerations put pressure on Schellenberg’s premise that non-resistant non-belief occurs. First, I specify conditions for someone’s being a resistant non-believer. Then, I argue that many people fulfill these conditions because, given (...) some plausible assumptions, there is a very good pragmatic reason to be a theist rather than an atheist. I assume it is more likely that theists go to heaven than atheists, and I argue there is a non-zero probability that one can receive infinite utility and a method of comparing outcomes with infinite utilities in which the probability of each outcome affects the final expected values. Then, I show how this argument entails there is no good reason to think that there are very many non-resistant non-believers. (shrink)
This book is devoted to applied ethics. We focus on six popular and controversial topics: abortion, the environment, animals, poverty, punishment, and disability. We cover three chapters per topic, and each chapter is devoted to a famous or influential argument on the topic. After we present an influential argument, we then consider objections to the argument, and replies to the objections. The book is impartial, and set up in order to equip the reader to make up her own mind about (...) the controversial topics covered. (shrink)
Traditional theistic arguments conclude that God exists. Pragmatic theistic arguments, by contrast, conclude that you ought to believe in God. The two most famous pragmatic theistic arguments are put forth by Blaise Pascal (1662) and William James (1896). Pragmatic arguments for theism can be summarized as follows: believing in God has significant benefits, and these benefits aren’t available for the unbeliever. Thus, you should believe in, or ‘wager on’, God. This article distinguishes between various kinds of theistic wagers, including finite (...) vs. infinite wagers, premortem vs. postmortem wagers, and doxastic vs. acceptance wagers. Then, we’ll turn to the epistemic-pragmatic distinction, and discusses the nuances of James’ argument, and how views like epistemic permissivism and epistemic consequentialism provide unique “hybrid” wagers. Finally, we’ll cover outstanding objections and responses. (shrink)
Faith is a trusting commitment to someone or something. Faith helps us meet our goals, keeps our relationships secure, and enables us to retain our commitments over time. Faith is thus a central part of a flourishing life. -/- This article is about the philosophy of faith. There are many philosophical questions about faith, such as: What is faith, and what are its main components or features? What are the different kinds of faith? What’s the relationship between faith and other (...) similar states, like belief, trust, knowledge, desire, doubt, and hope? Can faith be epistemically rationally? Practically rational? Morally permissible? -/- This article addresses these questions. It is divided into three main parts. The first is about the nature of faith. This includes different kinds of faith and various features of faith. The second discusses the way that faith relates to other states. For example, what’s the difference between faith and hope? Can someone have faith that something is true even if they don’t believe it is true? The third discusses three ways we might evaluate faith: epistemically, practically, and morally. While faith is, of course, not always rational or permissible, this section will cover when and how it can be. The idea of faith as a virtue is also discussed. (shrink)
What attitude should philosophers take toward their favorite philosophical theories? I argue that the answer is belief and middling to low credence. I begin by discussing why disagreement has motivated the view that we cannot rationally believe our philosophical theories. Then, I show why considerations from disagreement actually better support my view. I provide two additional arguments for my view: the first concerns roles for belief and credence and the second explains why believing one’s philosophical theories is superior to accepting (...) them. I close by addressing objections, including implications my view has for the Lockean thesis, the view that there is a normative connection between belief and high credence. (shrink)
Epistemic permissivism is the thesis that the evidence can rationally permit more than one attitude toward a proposition. Pascal’s wager is the idea that one ought to believe in God for practical reasons, because of what one can gain if theism is true and what one has to lose if theism is false. In this paper, I argue that if epistemic permissivism is true, then the defender of Pascal’s wager has powerful responses to two prominent objections. First, I argue that (...) if permissivism is true, then permissivism is true about theistic belief. Second, I show how epistemic permissivism about theistic belief dispels two objections to Pascal’s wager: the objection that wagering is impossible, and the objection that wagering is epistemically impermissible. (shrink)
Epistemic paternalism is the practice of interfering with someone’s inquiry, without their consent, for their own epistemic good. In this chapter, I explore the relationship between epistemic paternalism and two other epistemological theses: epistemic permissivism and standpoint epistemology. I argue that examining this relationship is fruitful because it sheds light on a series of cases in which epistemic paternalism is unjustified and brings out notable similarities between epistemic permissivism and standpoint epistemology.
Although much has been written about divine knowledge, and some on divine beliefs, virtually nothing has been written about divine credences. In this essay we comparatively assess four views on divine credences: (1) God has only beliefs, not credences; (2) God has both beliefs and credences; (3) God has only credences, not beliefs; and (4) God has neither credences nor beliefs, only knowledge. We weigh the costs and benefits of these four views and draw connections to current discussions in philosophical (...) theology. (shrink)
We call attention to certain cases of epistemic akrasia, arguing that they support belief-credence dualism. Belief-credence dualism is the view that belief and credence are irreducible, equally fundamental attitudes. Consider the case of an agent who believes p, has low credence in p, and thus believes that they shouldn’t believe p. We argue that dualists, as opposed to belief-firsters (who say credence reduces to belief) and credence-firsters (who say belief reduces to credence) can best explain features of akratic cases, including (...) the observation that akratic beliefs seem to be held despite possessing a defeater for those beliefs, and that, in akratic cases, one can simultaneously believe and have low confidence in the very same proposition. (shrink)
What is faith? How is faith different than belief and hope? Is faith irrational? If not, how can faith go beyond the evidence? This chapter introduces the reader to philosophical questions involving faith and reason. First, we explore a four-part definition of faith. Then, we consider the question of how faith could be rational yet go beyond the evidence.
The morality of abortion is a longstanding controversy. One may wonder whether it’s even possible to make significant progress on an issue over which so much ink has already been split and there is such polarizing disagreement (Boyle 1994). The papers in this issue show that this progress is possible—there is more to be said about abortion and other crucial beginning-of-life issues. They do so largely by applying contemporary philosophical tools to moral questions involving life’s beginning. The first two papers (...) defend the pro-life view from recent objections involving miscarriage and abortion doctors. The third shows how the social model of disability and the concept of transformative experience applies to classic debates like abortion and euthanasia. The final two papers address how rights and harms apply to children and to beings that do not yet exist. All five papers make a noteworthy contribution to the moral issues that arise at the beginning of life. (shrink)
Belief is a familiar attitude: taking something to be the case or regarding it as true. But we are more confident in some of our beliefs than in others. For this reason, many epistemologists appeal to a second attitude, called credence, similar to a degree of confidence. This raises the question: how do belief and credence relate to each other? On a belief-first view, beliefs are more fundamental and credences are a species of beliefs, e.g. beliefs about probabilities. On a (...) credence-first view, credences are more fundamental and beliefs are a species of credence, e.g. credence above some threshold. In this thesis, I develop and defend a third view that I call belief-credence dualism. On this view, belief and credence are independent, equally fundamental attitudes, and neither reduces to the other. I begin by motivating the project: why should we care about the relationship between belief and credence? I argue it has broad implications for many debates in epistemology and beyond. Then, I defend dualism, arguing that it can explain features of our mental lives that a credence-first view and a belief-first view cannot. I also argue that dualism has attractive, interesting implications when applied to the pragmatic encroachment debate. Finally, I explore implications of dualism, both for the nature of evidence and how faith might go beyond the evidence but nonetheless be epistemically rational. I conclude that the human mind is, in some ways, complex, but we should be happy with this conclusion also long as each mental state we posit has a clear role to play. (shrink)
On some religious traditions, there are obligations to believe certain things. However, this leads to a puzzle, since many philosophers think that we cannot voluntarily control our beliefs, and, plausibly, ought implies can. How do we make sense of religious doxastic obligations? The papers in this issue present four responses to this puzzle. The first response denies that we have doxastic obligations at all; the second denies that ought implies can. The third and fourth responses maintain that we have either (...) indirect or direct control over our beliefs. This paper summarizes each response to the puzzle and argues that there are plausible ways out of this paradox. (shrink)
The distinction between propositional and doxastic justification is normally applied to belief. The goal of this paper is to apply the distinction to faith and hope. Before doing so, I discuss the nature of faith and hope, and how they contrast with belief—belief has no essential conative component, whereas faith and hope essentially involve the conative. I discuss implications this has for evaluating faith and hope, and apply this to the propositional/doxastic distinction. There are two key upshots. One, bringing in (...) faith and hope makes salient additional normative categories, including the way the distinction between epistemic and practical justification interacts with the distinction between propositional and doxastic justification. Two, a paradigm example of propositional without doxastic justification is a belief that is evidentially supported but based on wishful thinking. Surprisingly, parallel cases of faith and hope may actually enjoy both propositional and doxastic justification. I conclude by exploring what it might look like for faith and hope to have propositional justification without doxastic justification. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to (i) examine the concept of epistemic paternalism and (ii) explore the consequences of normative questions one might ask about it. I begin by critically examining several definitions of epistemic paternalism that have been proposed, and suggesting ways they might be improved. I then contrast epistemic and general paternalism and argue that it’s difficult to see what makes epistemic paternalism an epistemic phenomenon at all. Next, I turn to the various normative questions one might (...) ask about epistemic paternalism and discuss the literature’s assumptions of epistemic consequentialism and veritism. I close by comparing and contrasting epistemic paternalism with other topics in social epistemology, such as disagreement or testimony. (shrink)
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. This entry covers epistemology in two parts: one historical, one contemporary. The former provides a brief theological history of epistemology. The latter outlines three categories of contemporary epistemology: traditional epistemology, social epistemology, and formal epistemology, along with corresponding theological questions that arise in each.
In this paper, I analyze epistemic blameworthiness. After presenting Michael Bergmann’s definition of epistemic blameworthiness, I argue that his definition is problematic because it does not have a control condition. I conclude by offering an improved definition of epistemic blameworthiness and defending this definition against potential counterexamples.