The possibility of pragmatic reasons for belief and the wrong kind of reasons problem
In this paper I argue against the stronger of the two views concerning the right and wrong kind of reasons for belief, i.e. the view that the only genuine normative reasons for belief are evidential. The project in this paper is primarily negative, but with an ultimately positive aim. That aim is to leave room for the possibility that there are genuine pragmatic reasons for belief. Work is required to make room for this view, because evidentialism of a strict variety remains the default view in much of the debate concerning normative reasons for belief. Strict versions of evidentialism are inconsistent with the view that there are genuine pragmatic reasons for belief.
KeywordsWrong kind of reasons Reasons for belief Evidentialism Theoretical reason Normativity Reasons Pragmatism
This paper in present and earlier versions has been improved by comments from a number of individuals. I would like to thank especially John Bishop, John Broome, Roger Crisp, Jonathan Dancy, Pamela Hieronymi, Sven Nyholm, Derek Parfit, Jessica Pepp, Wlodek Rabinowicz, Joseph Raz, John Skorupski, Sarah Stroud, and Nick Tebben. I would also like to thank CAPPE Melbourne, the Moral Philosophy Seminar at the University of Oxford, and the Philosophy Department at the University of Auckland for opportunities to present versions of this paper and for the valuable feedback from those in attendance.
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