Beyond Bad Beliefs

Journal of Moral Philosophy 18 (5):500-521 (2021)
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Philosophers have recently come to focus on explaining the phenomenon of ​bad beliefs,​ beliefs that are apparently true and well-evidenced but nevertheless objectionable. Despite this recent focus, a consensus is already forming around a particular explanation of these beliefs’ badness called ​moral encroachment​, according to which, roughly, the moral stakes engendered by bad beliefs make them particularly difficult to justify. This paper advances an alternative account not just of bad beliefs but of bad attitudes more generally according to which bad beliefs’ badness originates not in a failure of sufficient evidence but in a failure to respond adequately to reasons. I motivate this alternative account through an analogy to recent discussions of moral worth centered on the well-known grocer case from Kant’s ​Groundwork​, and by showing that this analogy permits the proposed account to generalize to bad attitudes beyond belief. The paper concludes by contrasting the implications of moral encroachment and of the proposed account for bad attitudes’ blameworthiness.

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Nathan Robert Howard
University of Toronto, St. George Campus


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