Philosophical Studies

, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 283-305

First online:

Does Belief Have an Aim?

  • David John OwensAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Sheffield, Western Bank

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


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 `at will’. I argue that the truth-aim hypothesis cannot explain any of these facts. In this respect believing differs from guessing since the hypothesis that guessing aims at the truth can explain the three analogous features of guessing. I conclude that, unlike guessing, believing is not purposive in any interesting sense.