The ethics of belief

Is it immoral to believe a claim without evidence?

The second half is the method of investigation; how to measure these quantities, what instruments are required for the experiment, and how are they to be used? On the contrary we should give a specific consideration to immediate beliefs which are not governed by evidence in the same way as derived beliefs. James's Non-Evidentialist alternative to Clifford is far more permissive: it says that there are some contexts in which it is fine to form a belief even though we don't have sufficient evidence for it, and even though we know that we don't. If believing that p has benefits for you, you are allowed to believe that p. It divides in two trends: a pragmatic permissivism and a common-sensist permissivism. And there can be no grounds for supposing that a man knows that which we, without ceasing to be men, could not be supposed to verify. The value of all these things depends on their being tested day by day. The reason of this judgment is not far to seek: it is that in both these cases the belief held by one man was of great importance to other men. But it can also affect the extent to which parallels can be drawn between the ethics of belief and the ethics of action generally. That said, it is possible to imagine a diachronic ethics of belief according to which truth is the sole aim of belief, but we evaluate particular beliefs not just on whether they are true but also on their ability to enable or produce the subsequent acquisition of other true beliefs. Practical reasons are subjective reasons which have a positive impact on our moral and emotional state.

Be wary of beliefs that align with your self-interest. Similarly, if we discover that following moral norms of belief reliably leads to the acquisition of knowledge, then there may be a track-record argument that goes from epistemic norms to moral norms this would effectively be an empirical argument in support of P2 above.

Clearly not; the question is not whether their belief was true or false, but whether they entertained it on wrong grounds. Our experience is that manuscripts exist which are said to be and which call themselves manuscripts of the history of Thucydides; that in other manuscripts, stated to be by later historians, he is described as living during the time of the war; and that books, supposed to date from the revival of learning, tell us how these manuscripts had been preserved and were then acquired.

And it would require a great amount of careful examination into the history of those nations to determine which of these things had the greater share in the result. Other more permissive accounts go beyond the three types of value considered above—prudential, moral, and epistemic—to suggest that there are other types that can generate doxastic obligations as well.

A virtue-theoretic approach, by contrast, might defend P2 by claiming not that a particular unjustified belief causes moral harm, but rather that regularly ignoring our epistemic obligations is a bad intellectual habit, and that having a bad intellectual habits is a way of having a bad moral character ZagzebskiRoberts and Wood It is conceivable that we might, without ceasing to be men, go there and verify his statement; it can be tested by the witness of his companions, and there is adequate ground for supposing that he knows the truth of what he is saying.

clifford evidentialism

If a group of documents give internal evidence that they were produced among people who forged books in the names of others, and who, in describing events, suppressed those things which did not suit them, while they amplified such as did suit them; who not only committed these crimes, but gloried in them as proofs of humility and zeal; then we must say that upon such documents no true historical inference can be founded, but only unsatisfactory conjecture.

For example: in the case of peer disagreement, knowing that a peer disagrees with you is a piece of higher-order evidence regarding your first-order belief. But is this a true belief, of the existence of hydrogen in the sun?

The ethics of belief and other essays

It is an assumption of uniformity in nature, and can only be checked by comparison with many similar assumptions which we have to make in other such cases. This issue, too, has an effect on the ethics of belief. This testimony rests on the most awful of foundations, the revelation of heaven itself; for was he not visited by the angel Gabriel, as he fasted and prayed in his desert cave, and allowed to enter into the blessed fields of Paradise? But if it can be shown that he is suborned, or that he is influenced by malice or partial favour, his testimony loses all its credit, and is justly rejected. Facing a lack of epistemic evidence, a strong evidentialist recommends us not to give our assent, while a permissivist allows us to go on with our beliefs. In order to see how such requirements can play a role, consider the following prudential doxastic norm: A If S has end E, and if S's believing that p is likely to make E obtain, then S has a prima facie prudential obligation to believe that p. Whether or not these parallels are illuminating, and whether a view in the ethics of belief constrains our options in the ethics of action, is still an open question see Kornblith , Dougherty Reid resolutely takes this permissive path. Once a principle along these lines has been chosen, the relative strictness of a given Evidentialist position will be a function of how many exceptions it allows. Whoso would deserve well of his fellows in this matter will guard the purity of his beliefs with a very fanaticism of jealous care, lest at any time it should rest on an unworthy object, and catch a stain which can never be wiped away. One argument for the claim that knowledge is the norm of belief seeks to infer that result from the claim that knowledge is the aim of belief. But he apparently did not refer to the Scottish common sense championed by Reid. For a For it is not possible so to sever the belief from the action it suggests as to condemn the one without condemning the other.

But this is the kind of assumption which we are justified in using when we add to our experience.

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A Permissivist Ethics of Belief