Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 7, pp 1923–1950 | Cite as

Equal treatment for belief

  • Susanna RinardEmail author


This paper proposes that the question “What should I believe?” is to be answered in the same way as the question “What should I do?,” a view I call Equal Treatment. After clarifying the relevant sense of “should,” I point out advantages that Equal Treatment has over both simple and subtle evidentialist alternatives, including versions that distinguish what one should believe from what one should get oneself to believe. I then discuss views on which there is a distinctively epistemic sense of should. Next I reply to an objection which alleges that non-evidential considerations cannot serve as reasons for which one believes. I then situate Equal Treatment in a broader theoretical framework, discussing connections to rationality, justification, knowledge, and theoretical versus practical reasoning. Finally, I show how Equal Treatment has important implications for a wide variety of issues, including the status of religious belief, philosophical skepticism, racial profiling and gender stereotyping, and certain issues in psychology, such as depressive realism and positive illusions.


Evidentialism Epistemic Pragmatism Practical reasons for belief Pragmatic reasons for belief 



Many thanks to Miriam Schoenfield, Ram Neta, Thomas Kelly, Sophie Horowitz, Andrew Graham, Adam Elga, Selim Berker, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments and suggestions. Thanks also to participants in the Monday Seminar at Princeton’s University Center for Human Values, a graduate seminar at Princeton taught by Thomas Kelly, the Princeton Workshop in Normative Philosophy, and a graduate seminar at Harvard.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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