Advertisement

Philosophical Studies

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

Equal treatment for belief

  • Susanna RinardEmail author
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Evidentialism Epistemic Pragmatism Practical reasons for belief Pragmatic reasons for belief 

Notes

Acknowledgements

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.

References

  1. Adler, J. (2002). Belief’s own ethics. Cambridge, MA: Bradford/MIT.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alloy, L. B., & Abramson, L. Y. (1988). Depressive realism: Four theoretical perspectives. In L. B. Alloy (Ed.), Cognitive processes in depression (pp. 223–265). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bennett, J. (1990). Why is belief involuntary? Analysis, 50, 87–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Booth, A. R. (2015). Belief is contingently involuntary. Ratio, 29(3), 107.Google Scholar
  5. Clifford, W.K. 1877 [1999]. The ethics of belief. In T. Madigan (Ed.), The ethics of belief and other essays, Amherst, MA: Prometheus.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, S. (forthcoming). Theorizing about the epistemic. Inquiry.Google Scholar
  7. Conee, E., & Feldman, R. (2004). Evidentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Feldman, R. (2000). The ethics of belief. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 60(3), 667–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Foley, R. (1987). The theory of epistemic rationality. Harvard: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Foley, R. (1992). Working without a net. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gibbard, A. (2005). Truth and Correct Belief. Philosophical Issues, 15, 338–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hedden, B. (2015). Reasons without persons: Rationality, identity, and time. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hieronymi, P. (2005). The wrong kind of reason. Journal of Philosophy, 102, 437–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Howard, C. (2016). In defense of the wrong kind of reason. Thought, 5, 53–62.Google Scholar
  15. Jackson, F., & Pargetter, R. (1986). Oughts, options, and actualism. Philosophical Review, 95, 233–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. James, W. (1896) [1979]. The Will to believe. In F. Burkhardt et al. (Ed.), The will to believe and other essays in popular philosophy (pp. 291–341), Cambridge: MA, Harvard.Google Scholar
  17. Kelly, T. (2002). The rationality of belief and other propositional attitudes. Philosophical Studies, 110(2), 163–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kelly, T. (2003). Epistemic rationality as instrumental rationality: A critique. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 66(3), 612–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lavin, D. (2013). Must there be basic action? Nous, 47(2), 273–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leary, S. (forthcoming). In defense of practical reasons for belief. Australasian Journal of Philosophy. Google Scholar
  21. Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The how of happiness: A scientific approach to getting the life you want. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  22. Marusic, B. (2015). Evidence and agency: Norms of belief for promising and resolving. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCormick, M. (2015). Believing against the evidence: Agency and the ethics of belief. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. McHugh, C. (2015). The Illusion of Exclusivity. European Journal of Philosophy, 23(4), 1117–1136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nozick, R. (1974). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  26. Papineau, D. (2013). There are no norms of belief. In T. Chan (Ed.), The aim of belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Parfit, D. (1984). Reasons and persons. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  28. Parfit, D. (2011). On what matters (Vol. 1). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pascal, B. (1670) [1995] Pensées, A. Kreilsheimer (trans. and ed.), New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  30. Preston-Roedder, R. (2013). Faith in humanity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 87(3), 664–687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Reisner, A. (2008). Weighing pragmatic and evidential reasons for belief. Philosophical Studies, 138(1), 17–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Reisner, A. (2013). Leaps of knowledge. In T. Chan (Ed.), The aim of belief (pp. 167–183). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schroeder, M. (forthcoming). The unity of reasons. In D. Star (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook to Reasons and Rationality, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Seligman, M. (1991). Learned optimism. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  35. Shah, N. (2006). A new argument for evidentialism. Philosophical Quarterly, 56(225), 481–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Taylor, S., & Brown, J. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103(2), 193–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Way, J. (forthcoming). Two arguments for evidentialism. Philosophical Quarterly. Google Scholar
  38. White, R. (2010). You just believe that because…. Philosophical Perspectives, 24(1), 573–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wilson, T. (2011). Redirect: The surprising new science of psychological change. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  40. Wood, A. (2008). The duty to believe according to the evidence. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 63(1/3), 7–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wright, C. (2014). On epistemic entitlement (II). In D. Dodd & E. Zardini (Eds.), Scepticism and perceptual justification (pp. 215–245). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations