The Aim of Belief and Suspended Belief

Philosophical Psychology 34 (4):581-606 (2021)
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In this paper, I discuss whether different interpretations of the ‘aim’ of belief—both the teleological and normative interpretations—have the resources to explain certain descriptive and normative features of suspended belief (suspension). I argue that, despite the recent efforts of theorists to extend these theories to account for suspension, they ultimately fail. The implication is that we must either develop alternative theories of belief that can account for suspension, or we must abandon the assumption that these theories ought to be able to account for suspension. To close, I briefly consider some of the reasons we have in favour of pursing each of these options, and I suggest that it is worth exploring the possibility that suspension is best understood as its own attitude, independently of theories of belief’s ‘aim’.

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C. J. Atkinson
Lingnan University


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