Philosophical Studies

, Volume 131, Issue 2, pp 303–335 | Cite as

Aiming at Truth: Doxastic vs. Epistemic Goals

Article

Abstract

Belief is generally thought to be the primary cognitive state representing the world as being a certain way, regulating our behavior and guiding us around the world. It is thus regarded as being constitutively linked with the truth of its content. This feature of belief has been famously captured in the thesis that believing is a purposive state aiming at truth. It has however proved to be notoriously difficult to explain what the thesis really involves. In this paper, I begin by critically examining a number of recent attempts to unpack the metaphor. I shall then proceed to highlight an error that seems to cripple most of these attempts. This involves the confusion between, what I call, doxastic and epistemic goals. Finally, having offered my own positive account of the aim-of-belief thesis, I shall underline its deflationary nature by distinguishing between aiming at truth and hitting that target (truth). I end by comparing the account with certain prominent inflationary theories of the nature of belief.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alston, W. (1988): ‘The Deontological Conception of Epistemic Justification’, reprinted in Epistemic Justification , Cornell University Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  2. BonJour, L. (1985): The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bratman, M. (1999): ‘Practical Reasoning and Acceptance in a Context’, in Faces of Intention, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Chisholm, R. (1987): Theory of Knowledge, 2nd edn., Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. (1992): An Essay on Belief and Acceptance, Oxford.Google Scholar
  6. David, M. (2001): ‘Truth as the Epistemic Goal’ in M. Steup (ed.), Knowledge, Truth and Duty, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Davidson, D. (1984): ‘Radical Interpretation.’, in Truth and Interpretation, Oxford.Google Scholar
  8. Davidson, D. (1986): ‘A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge’, in E. LePore, (ed.), Truth and Interpretation, Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Foley, R. (1987): The Theory of Epistemic Rationality, Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Humberstone, L. 1992‘Direction of Fit’Mind1015983Google Scholar
  11. Kelly, T. 2003‘Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique’Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. LXVI3612640Google Scholar
  12. Owens, D. 2003‘Does Belief Have an Aim?’Philosophical Studies115283305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Velleman, D. (2000a): ‘On the Aim of Belief’, in The Possibility of Practical Reason, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Velleman, D. (2000b): ‘The Possibility of Practical Reason’, in The Possibility of Practical Reason, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Unwin, N. 2003‘What Does it Mean to Aim at Truth’American Philosophical Quaterly4091104Google Scholar
  16. Wedgwood, R. 2002‘The Aim of Belief’Philosophical Perspectives16267297Google Scholar
  17. Williams, B. (1973): ‘Deciding to Believe’ in Problems of the Self, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Analytic Philosophy FacultyIPMTehranIran

Personalised recommendations