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Believing for Practical Reasons

Noûs (4):763-784 (2018)

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  1. There Are No Epistemic Norms of Inquiry.David Thorstad - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-24.
    Epistemic nihilism for inquiry is the claim that there are no epistemic norms of inquiry. Epistemic nihilism was once the received stance towards inquiry, and I argue that it should be taken seriously again. My argument is that the same considerations which led us away from epistemic nihilism in the case of belief not only cannot refute epistemic nihilism for inquiry, but in fact may well support it. These include the argument from non-existence that there are no non-epistemic reasons for (...)
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  • Authoritative Knowledge.Juan S. Piñeros Glasscock - 2020 - Erkenntnis 87 (5):2475-2502.
    This paper investigates ‘authoritative knowledge’, a neglected species of practical knowledge gained on the basis of exercising practical authority. I argue that, like perceptual knowledge, authoritative knowledge is non-inferential. I then present a broadly reliabilist account of the process by which authority yields knowledge, and use this account to address certain objections.
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  • How Does Trust Relate to Faith?Daniel J. McKaughan & Daniel Howard-Snyder - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    How does trust relate to faith? We do not know of a theory-neutral way to answer our question. So, we begin with what we regard as a plausible theory of faith according to which, in slogan form, faith is resilient reliance. Next, we turn to contemporary theories of trust. They are not of one voice. Still, we can use them to indicate ways in which trust and faith might both differ from and resemble each other. This is what we do. (...)
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  • On Believing Indirectly for Practical Reasons.Sebastian Schmidt - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (6):1795-1819.
    It is often argued that there are no practical reasons for belief because we could not believe for such reasons. A recent reply by pragmatists is that we can often believe for practical reasons because we can often cause our beliefs for practical reasons. This paper reveals the limits of this recently popular strategy for defending pragmatism, and thereby reshapes the dialectical options for pragmatism. I argue that the strategy presupposes that reasons for being in non-intentional states are not reducible (...)
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  • Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement.Guy Axtell - 2019 - Lanham, MD, USA & London, UK: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield.
    To speak of being religious lucky certainly sounds odd. But then, so does “My faith holds value in God’s plan, while yours does not.” This book argues that these two concerns — with the concept of religious luck and with asymmetric or sharply differential ascriptions of religious value — are inextricably connected. It argues that religious luck attributions can profitably be studied from a number of directions, not just theological, but also social scientific and philosophical. There is a strong tendency (...)
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  • Understanding Delusions: Evidence, Reason, and Experience.Chenwei Nie - 2021 - Dissertation, University of Warwick
    This thesis develops a novel framework for explaining delusions. In Chapter 1, I introduce the two fundamental challenges posed by delusions: the evidence challenge lies in explaining the flagrant ways delusions flout evidence; and the specificity challenge lies in explaining the fact that patients’ delusions are often about a few specific themes, and patients rarely have a wide range of delusional or odd beliefs. In Chapter 2, I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of current theories of delusions, which typically appeal (...)
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  • Controlling Our Reasons.Sophie Keeling - 2022 - Noûs.
    Philosophical discussion on control has largely centred around control over our actions and beliefs. Yet this overlooks the question of whether we also have control over the reasons for which we act and believe. To date, the overriding assumption appears to be that we do not, and with seemingly good reason. We cannot choose to act for a reason and acting-for-a-reason is not itself something we do. While some have challenged this in the case of reasons for action, these claims (...)
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  • Unifying Epistemic and Practical Rationality.Mattias Skipper - forthcoming - Mind.
    Many theories of rational action are predicated on the idea that what it is rational to do in a given situation depends, in part, on what it is rational to believe in that situation. In short: they treat epistemic rationality as explanatorily prior to practical rationality. If they are right in doing so, it follows, on pain of explanatory circularity, that epistemic rationality cannot itself be a form of practical rationality. Yet, many epistemologists have defended just such a view of (...)
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  • An Instrumentalist Account of How to Weigh Epistemic and Practical Reasons for Belief.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen & Mattias Skipper - 2019 - Mind 129 (516):1071-1094.
    When one has both epistemic and practical reasons for or against some belief, how do these reasons combine into an all-things-considered reason for or against that belief? The question might seem to presuppose the existence of practical reasons for belief. But we can rid the question of this presupposition. Once we do, a highly general ‘Combinatorial Problem’ emerges. The problem has been thought to be intractable due to certain differences in the combinatorial properties of epistemic and practical reasons. Here we (...)
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  • Accuracy, probabilism, and the insufficiency of the alethic.Corey Dethier - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (7):2285-2301.
    The best and most popular argument for probabilism is the accuracy-dominance argument, which purports to show that alethic considerations alone support the view that an agent’s degrees of belief should always obey the axioms of probability. I argue that extant versions of the accuracy-dominance argument face a problem. In order for the mathematics of the argument to function as advertised, we must assume that every omniscient credence function is classically consistent; there can be no worlds in the set of dominance-relevant (...)
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  • Fittingness: A User’s Guide.Chris Howard & R. A. Rowland - forthcoming - In Chris Howard & R. A. Rowland (eds.), Fittingness. Oxford University Press.
    The chapter introduces and characterizes the notion of fittingness. It charts the history of the relation and its relevance to contemporary debates in normative and metanormative philosophy and proceeds to survey issues to do with fittingness covered in the volume’s chapters, including the nature and epistemology of fittingness, the relations between fittingness and reasons, the normativity of fittingness, fittingness and value theory, and the role of fittingness in theorizing about responsibility. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of issues to (...)
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  • Epistemology.Matthias Steup - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Defined narrowly, epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? As the study of justified belief, epistemology aims to answer questions such as: How we are to understand the concept of justification? What makes justified beliefs justified? Is justification internal or external to one's own mind? (...)
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  • No Practical Reasons for Belief: The Epistemic Significance of Practical Considerations.Hamid Vahid - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-18.
    On some versions of evidentialism, only evidential reasons can be normatively relevant to belief. An opposed philosophical view denies this. Unfortunately, the debate between these contrasting views quickly ends in a stalemate because while evidentialists typically point to the difficulty of believing for practical reasons, pragmatists respond by citing cases where people seem to hold beliefs in the absence of evidence. Recently, however, some pragmatists have adopted a new strategy that seeks to combine the evidentialist insight that only evidence can (...)
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  • There Are No Irrational Emotions.Steven Gubka - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):293-317.
    Folk and philosophers alike argue whether particular emotions are rational. However, these debates presuppose that emotions are eligible for rationality. Drawing on examples of how we manage our own emotions through strategies such as taking medication, I argue that the general permissibility of such management demonstrates that emotions are ineligible for rationality. It follows that emotions are never irrational or rational. Because neither perception nor emotion is eligible for rationality, this reveals a significant epistemic continuity between them, lending support to (...)
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  • Was William James an Evidentialist?Henry Jackman - 2022 - Southwest Philosophy Review 38 (1):81-90.
    William James has traditionally been seen as a critic of evidentialism, with his claim that “Our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must, decide an option between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds” being understood as saying that in certain cases we have the right to believe beyond what is certified by the evidence. However, there is an alternate, “expansive”, reading of James (defended most recently by Cheryl Misak, (...)
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  • Ought to Believe, Simpliciter.Anthony Robert Booth - forthcoming - Episteme:1-13.
    According to many philosophers there are only pro tanto oughts to believe relative to a standard of assessment: there are epistemic oughts to believe, moral oughts to believe, prudential oughts to believe etc. But there are no oughts to believe simpliciter. Many of the same philosophers who hold this view, also hold that ought to believe is to be understood deontologically – such that if S violates such an ought without excuse, S is blameworthy for doing so. I here argue (...)
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  • Doxastic Divergence and the Problem of Comparability. Pragmatism Defended Further.Anne Meylan - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (1):199-216.
    Situations where it is not obvious which of two incompatible actions we ought to perform are commonplace. As has frequently been noted in the contemporary literature, a similar issue seems to arise in the field of beliefs. Cases of doxastic divergence are cases in which the subject seems subject to two divergent oughts to believe: an epistemic and a practical ought to believe. This article supports the moderate pragmatist view according to which subjects ought, all things considered, to hold the (...)
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  • Can Pragmatists Be Moderate?Alex Worsnip - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3):531-558.
    In discussions of whether and how pragmatic considerations can make a difference to what one ought to believe, two sets of cases feature. The first set, which dominates the debate about pragmatic reasons for belief, is exemplified by cases of being financially bribed to believe (or withhold from believing) something. The second set, which dominates the debate about pragmatic encroachment on epistemic justification, is exemplified by cases where acting on a belief rashly risks some disastrous outcome if the belief turns (...)
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  • Epistemic Reasons Are Not Normative Reasons for Belief.Samuel Montplaisir - 2021 - Acta Analytica 36 (4):573-587.
    In this paper, I argue against the view that epistemic reasons are normative reasons for belief. I begin by responding to some of the most widespread arguments in favor of the normativity of epistemic reasons before advancing two arguments against this thesis. The first is supported by an analysis of what it means to “have” some evidence for p. The second is supported by the claim that beliefs, if they are to be considered as states, cannot have epistemic reasons as (...)
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  • On the Normative Significance of the Aims of Religious Practice.Joona Auvinen - 2021 - Zygon 56 (1):118-138.
    During the last decades it has been common to assert—especially in the field of science and religion—that the aims characteristic of religious practice determine the norms we should employ when evaluating its normative status. However, until now, this issue has not been properly investigated by paying attention to contemporary metanormative research. In this article, I critically examine how different popular theories of normativity relate to the proposed normative significance of the aims characteristic of religious practice. I argue that whether or (...)
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  • Evidentialists’ Internalist Argument for Pragmatism.Tsung-Hsing Ho - 2021 - Logos and Episteme 12 (4):427-436.
    A popular evidentialist argument against pragmatism is based on reason internalism: the view that a normative reason for one to φ must be able to guide one in normative deliberation whether to φ. In the case of belief, this argument maintains that, when deliberating whether to believe p, one must deliberate whether p is true. Since pragmatic considerations cannot weigh in our deliberation whether p, the argument concludes that pragmatism is false. I argue that evidentialists fail to recognize that the (...)
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  • Faith, Hope, and Justification.Elizabeth Jackson - 2022 - In Luis R. G. Oliveira & Paul Silva Jr (eds.), Propositional and Doxastic Justification. New York: Routledge. pp. 201–216.
    The distinction between propositional and doxastic justification is normally applied to belief. The goal of this paper is to apply the distinction to faith and hope. Before doing so, I discuss the nature of faith and hope, and how they contrast with belief—belief has no essential conative component, whereas faith and hope essentially involve the conative. I discuss implications this has for evaluating faith and hope, and apply this to the propositional/doxastic distinction. There are two key upshots. One, bringing in (...)
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  • A Permissivist Defense of Pascal’s Wager.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-26.
    Epistemic permissivism is the thesis that the evidence can rationally permit more than one attitude toward a proposition. Pascal’s wager is the idea that one ought to believe in God for practical reasons, because of what one can gain if theism is true and what one has to lose if theism is false. In this paper, I argue that if epistemic permissivism is true, then the defender of Pascal’s wager has powerful responses to two prominent objections. First, I argue that (...)
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  • How Privacy Rights Engender Direct Doxastic Duties.Lauritz Aastrup Munch - forthcoming - Journal of Value Inquiry:1-16.
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  • The Epistemic Demands of Friendship: Friendship as Inherently Knowledge-Involving.Cathy Mason - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2439-2455.
    Many recent philosophers have been tempted by epistemic partialism. They hold that epistemic norms and those of friendship constitutively conflict. In this paper, I suggest that underpinning this claim is the assumption that friendship is not an epistemically rich state, an assumption that even opponents of epistemic partiality have not questioned. I argue that there is good reason to question this assumption, and instead regard friendship as essentially involving knowledge of the other. If we accept this account of friendship, the (...)
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  • Problems of Religious Luck, Chapter 6: The Pattern Stops Here?Guy Axtell - forthcoming - In Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement.
    This book has argued that problems of religious luck, especially when operationalized into concerns about doxastic risk and responsibility, can be of shared interest to theologians, philosophers, and psychologists. We have pointed out counter-inductive thinking as a key feature of fideistic models of faith, and examined the implications of this point both for the social scientific study of fundamentalism, and for philosophers’ and theologians’ normative concerns with the reasonableness of a) exclusivist attitudes to religious multiplicity, and b) theologically-cast but bias-mirroring (...)
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  • The Value of Truth and the Normativity of Evidence.Tommaso Piazza - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):5067-5088.
    To say that evidence is normative is to say that what evidence one possesses, and how this evidence relates to any proposition, determines which attitude among believing, disbelieving and withholding one ought to take toward this proposition if one deliberates about whether to believe it. It has been suggested by McHugh that this view can be vindicated by resting on the premise that truth is epistemically valuable. In this paper, I modify the strategy sketched by McHugh so as to overcome (...)
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  • Radical Pragmatism in the Ethics of Belief.Samuel Montplaisir - 2020 - Philosophia 49 (1):403-419.
    In this paper, I defend the view that only practical reasons are normative reasons for belief. This requires viewing beliefs as the predictable results of our actions. I will show how this fits with our intuitions about mental autonomy. The remainder of the paper consists in a defense against a series of objections that may be expected against this position. The paper concludes with a metaphilosophical explanation about our conflicting intuitions regarding the normativity of rationality.
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  • Being Rational and Being Wrong.Kevin Dorst - manuscript
    Do people tend to be overconfident in their opinions? Many think so. They’ve run studies to test whether people are calibrated: whether their confidence in their opinions matches the proportion of those opinions that are true. Under certain conditions, people are systematically “over-calibrated”—for example, of the opinions they’re 80% confident in, only 60% are true. From this observed over-calibration, it’s inferred that people are irrationally overconfident. My question: When—and why—is this inference warranted? Answering this question requires articulating a general connection (...)
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  • Unifying Group Rationality.Matthew Kopec - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6:517-544.
    Various social epistemologists employ what seem to be rather distinct notions of group rationality. In this essay, I offer an account of group rationality that is able to unify the dominant notions present in the literature under a single framework. I argue that if we employ a teleological account of epistemic rationality, and then allow that there are many different epistemic goals that are worth pursuing for various groups and individuals, we can then see how those seemingly divergent understandings of (...)
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  • An Inductive Risk Account of the Ethics of Belief.Guy Axtell - 2019 - Philosophy. The Journal of the Higher School of Economic 3 (3):146-171.
    From what norms does the ethics of belief derive its oughts, its attributions of virtues and vices, responsibilities and irresponsibilities, its permissioning and censuring? Since my inductive risk account is inspired by pragmatism, and this method understands epistemology as the theory of inquiry, the paper will try to explain what the aims and tasks are for an ethics of belief, or project of guidance, which best fits with this understanding of epistemology. More specifically, this chapter approaches the ethics of belief (...)
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  • Coherence as Competence.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2021 - Episteme 18 (3):453-376.
    Being incoherent is often viewed as a paradigm kind of irrationality. Numerous authors attempt to explain the distinct-seeming failure of incoherence by positing a set of requirements of structural rationality. I argue that the notion of coherence that structural requirements are meant to capture is very slippery, and that intuitive judgments – in particular, a charge of a distinct, blatant kind of irrationality – are very imperfectly correlated with respecting the canon of structural requirements. I outline an alternative strategy for (...)
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  • Discussion Note: Selim Berker’s Combinatorial Argument Against Practical Reasons for Belief.Adam Shmidt - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (2):763-776.
    In a recent paper, Selim Berker develops an abductive argument against practical reasons for belief that exploits an alleged difference between epistemic and practical reasons. According to Berker, epistemic reasons for belief balance to suspension. If I have equally strong epistemic reasons to believe and disbelieve some proposition, I lack sufficient reason either to believe or disbelieve it. Rather, I have decisive reason to suspend judgment. In contrast, practical reasons balance to permission. If I have equally strong practical reasons to (...)
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  • The Epistemic Role of Core Cognition.Zoe Jenkin - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (2):251-298.
    According to a traditional picture, perception and belief have starkly different epistemic roles. Beliefs have epistemic statuses as justified or unjustified, depending on how they are formed and maintained. In contrast, perceptions are “unjustified justifiers.” Core cognition is a set of mental systems that stand at the border of perception and belief, and has been extensively studied in developmental psychology. Core cognition's borderline states do not fit neatly into the traditional epistemic picture. What is the epistemic role of these states? (...)
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  • How to Argue with a Pragmatist.Artūrs Logins - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    According to recently popular pragmatist views it may be rational for one to believe p when one’s evidence doesn’t favour p over not-p. This may happen according to pragmatists in situations where one can gain something practically important out of believing p. In this paper I argue that given some independently plausible assumptions about the argumentative nature of philosophy and the irrelevance of bribes for good arguments, pragmatism leads to a contradiction.
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