The Ethics of Belief

ISBN : 9780199686520

Jonathan Matheson; Rico Vitz
352 Pages
164 x 241 mm
Pub date
Aug 2014
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How do people form beliefs, and how should they do so? This book presents seventeen new essays on these questions, drawing together perspectives from philosophy and psychology. The first section explores the ethics of belief from an individualistic framework. It begins by examining the question of doxastic voluntarism-i.e., the extent to which people have control over their beliefs. It then shifts to focusing on the kinds of character that epistemic agents should cultivate, what their epistemic ends ought to be, and the way in which these issues are related to other traditional questions in epistemology. The section concludes by examining questions of epistemic value, of whether knowledge is in some sense primary, and of whether the ethics of belief falls within the domain of epistemology or ethics. The second section extends this traditional debate to issues concerning the social dimensions of belief formation. It begins with essays by social psychologists discussing the past three decades of research in 'lay epistemics'. It continues by examining Humean, Kantian, and feminist insights into the social aspects of belief formation, as well as questions concerning the ethics of assertion. The section concludes with a series of essays examining a topic that is currently of great interest to epistemologists: namely, the significance of peer disagreement.


1. The Powers that Bind: Doxastic Voluntarism and Epistemic Obligation
2. Deciding to Believe Redux
3. Varieties of Epistemic Vice
4. Knowledge and Time: Kripke's Dogmatism Paradox and the Ethics of Belief
5. Can There Be a Knowledge-First Ethics of Belief?
6. Truth as the Fundamental Epistemic Good
7. Wide-Scope Requirements and the Ethics of Belief
8. The 'Ethics of Belief' is Ethics (Period): Reassigning Responsibilism
9. The Psychology of Knowledge Formation: Its Impetus, Mechanism, and Social Context
10. Perspectives on Social Knowledge
11. Contagion, Community, and Virtue in Hume's Epistemology
12. Understanding Epistemic Normativity in Feminist Epistemology
13. The Commonwealth of Epistemic Ends
14. Assertion and the Ethics of Belief
15. Evidence of Evidence is Evidence
16. Believers as Thermometers
17. Disagreement: Idealized and Everyday

About the author: 

Jonathan Matheson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Florida. He is the author of 'The Case for Rational Uniqueness' (Logos & Episteme), 'Are Conciliatory Views of Disagreement Self-Defeating?' (Social Epistemology), 'Conciliatory Views of Disagreement and Higher-Order Evidence' (Episteme: A Journal of Social Philosophy), and 'Bergmann's Dilemma: Exit Strategies for Internalists' (Philosophical Studies), co-authored with Jason Rogers.; Rico Vitz is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Azusa Pacific University. He is the author of Reforming the Art of Living: Nature, Virtue, and Religion in Descartes's Philosophy (Springer, forthcoming) as well as various articles and chapters, including 'The Nature and Functions of Sympathy in Hume's Philosophy' (The Oxford Handbook of David Hume), 'Thomas More and the Christian 'Superstition': A Puzzle for Hume's Psychology of Religious Belief' (The Modern Schoolman), 'Descartes and the Question of Direct Doxastic Voluntarism' (Journal of Philosophical Research), 'Doxastic Virtues in Hume's Epistemology' (Hume Studies), and 'Sympathy and Benevolence in Hume's Moral Psychology' (Journal of the History of Philosophy).

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