Belief's Own Ethics

Belief's Own Ethics

by Jonathan E. Adler
     
 

The fundamental question of the ethics of belief is "What ought one to believe?" According to the traditional view of evidentialism, the strength of one's beliefs should be proportionate to the evidence. Conventional ways of defending and challenging evidentialism rely on the idea that what one ought to believe is a matter of what it is rational, prudent, ethical,

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Overview

The fundamental question of the ethics of belief is "What ought one to believe?" According to the traditional view of evidentialism, the strength of one's beliefs should be proportionate to the evidence. Conventional ways of defending and challenging evidentialism rely on the idea that what one ought to believe is a matter of what it is rational, prudent, ethical, or personally fulfilling to believe. Common to all these approaches is that they look outside of belief itself to determine what one ought to believe.

In this book Jonathan
Adler offers a strengthened version of evidentialism, arguing that the ethics of belief should be rooted in the concept of belief -- that evidentialism is belief's own ethics. A key observation is that it is not merely that one ought not, but that one cannot, believe, for example, that the number of stars is even. The "cannot"
represents a conceptual barrier, not just an inability. Therefore belief in defiance of one's evidence (or evidentialism) is impossible. Adler addresses such questions as irrational beliefs, reasonableness, control over beliefs, and whether justifying beliefs requires a foundation. Although he treats the ethics of belief as a central topic in epistemology, his ideas also bear on rationality, argument and pragmatics,
philosophy of religion, ethics, and social cognitive psychology.

The MIT Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262511940
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
03/01/2006
Series:
Bradford Books Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
373
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction1
1Getting Off the Wrong Track25
IThe Intrinsic Ethics of Belief26
IIExtrinsic Ethics of Belief43
2Can One Will to Believe?55
3Normative Epistemology: The Deceptively Large Scope of the Incoherence Test73
4Evading Evidentialism and Exploiting "Possibility": Strategies of Ignorance, Isolation, and Inflation103
IArguments from Ignorance104
IIIsolation and Testability120
IIIInflation as Distraction129
5Testimony: Background Reasons to Accept the Word of Others135
6Tacit Confirmation and the Regress163
7Three Paradoxes of Belief193
8Constraints on Us to Fully Believe211
9Interlude - Transparency, Full Belief, Accommodation231
10The Compatibility of Full Belief and Doubt249
11Prospects for Self-Control: Reasonableness, Self-Correction, and the Fallibility Structure279
Notes307
References331
Index349

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