'Belief' and Belief

European Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Our interest in understanding belief stems partly from our being creatures who think. However, the term ‘belief’ is used to refer to many states: from the fully conscious rational state that partly constitutes knowledge to the fanciful states of alarm clocks. Which of the many ‘belief’ states must a theory of belief be answerable to? This is the scope question. I begin my answer with a reply to a recent argument that belief is invariably weak, i.e., that the evidential standards that are required for belief are low. Although one state we refer to using the term ‘belief’ fits this profile, other ‘belief’ states do not. Crucially, when ‘belief’ is heard in a weak sense, it attributes a state that only a rational creature can be in. I will use this observation as a starting point for an argument that the study of (our) belief should not be constrained by the requirement that the illuminated state be held in common with any non-rational being. This lends support to the Transformative Theory of Rationality, according to which rationality does not merely add powers or complexity to the animal mind, but transforms it into a different kind of mind altogether.

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Eric Marcus
Auburn University

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Mind and World.Huw Price & John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical Books 38 (3):169-181.

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