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Reasons for Action and Reasons for Belief

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As Alan Wood has recently pointed out, there is “a long and strong philosophical tradition…that parcels out cognitive tasks to human faculties in such a way that belief is assigned to the will”. 1 Such an approach lends itself to addressing the ethics of belief as an extension of practical ethics. It also lends itself to a treatment of reasons for belief that is an extension of its treatment of reasons for action, for our awareness of reasons for action provides the framework within which we make reasonable, and hence morally acceptable, choices. One who holds that agents can make reasonable (and unreasonable) choices in relation to our “cognitive tasks” should, then, also expect that those choices occur in a framework established by our apprehension of reasons for belief. This paper seeks to articulate what an extension of an account of reasons for actions to an account of reasons for belief would look like. I also make some suggestions as to how the ethics of belief might parallel practical ethics.
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Keywords: Basic Goods; Ethics of Belief; Evidentialism; Reasons for Action; Reasons for Belief

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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