This paper argues for two theses: that degrees of belief are context sensitive; that outright belief is belief to degree 1. The latter thesis is rejected quickly in most discussions of the relationship between credence and belief, but the former thesis undermines the usual reasons for doing so. Furthermore, identifying belief with credence 1 allows nice solutions to a number of problems for the most widely-held view of the relationship between credence and belief, the threshold view. I provide a sketch (...) of a formal framework on which both theses are true. This is a modified Bayesian framework; I argue that despite making credences context-sensitive, the framework lets Bayesians hold on to their signature explanatory successes. The sort of context-sensitivity claimed for credences here mirrors the sort of context-sensitivity I have elsewhere claimed for outright belief: one's credences depend, in part, on the space of alternative possibilities one takes seriously in a context. (shrink)
This paper argues for a treatment of belief as essentially sensitive to certain features of context. The first part gives an argument that we must take belief to be context-sensitive in the same way that assertion is, if we are to preserve appealing principles tying belief to sincere assertion. In particular, whether an agent counts as believing that p in a context depends on the space of alternative possibilities the agent is considering in that context. One and the same doxastic (...) state may amount to belief that p in one context but not another. The second part of the paper gives a formal treatment of doxastic states, according to which belief is context-sensitive along just these lines. The model is applied to characterize (but not to refute) skeptical arguments. (shrink)
The preface paradox does not show that it can be rational to have inconsistent beliefs, because preface writers do not have inconsistent beliefs. I argue, first, that a fully satisfactory solution to the preface paradox would have it that the preface writer's beliefs are consistent. The case here is on basic intuitive grounds, not the consequence of a theory of rationality or of belief. Second, I point out that there is an independently motivated theory of belief – sensitivism – which (...) allows such a solution. I sketch a sensitivist account of the preface writer's doxastic state. (shrink)
In an influential recent paper, Hawthorne, Rothschild, and Spectre (“HRS”) argue that belief is weak. More precisely: they argue that the referent of believe in ordinary language is much weaker than epistemologists usually suppose; that one needs very little evidence to be entitled to believe a proposition in this sense; and that the referent of believe in ordinary language just is the ordinary concept of belief. I argue here to the contrary. HRS identify two alleged tests of weakness – the (...) neg-raising and weak upper bounds tests, as I call them – which they claim believe and think pass. But I identify several other expressions in ordinary English for attributing belief, all of which fail both tests. Therefore, even if HRS are correct that believe and think refer to a weak attitude, it does not follow that the ordinary concept of belief is weak. I conclude by raising some problems for the accounts of belief as guessing, building on HRS's arguments, due to Kevin Dorst, Matt Mandelkern, and Ben Holguín. (shrink)
This is a three-part exchange on the relationship between belief and credence. It begins with an opening essay by Roger Clarke that argues for the claim that the notion of credence generalizes the notion of belief. Julia Staffel argues in her reply that we need to distinguish between mental states and models representing them, and that this helps us explain what it could mean that belief is a special case of credence. Roger Clarke's final essay reflects on the compatibility of (...) the previously discussed views with dualist and monist interpretations of our mental states and our ways of modeling them. (shrink)
Manipulation cases are usually seen as a problem for compatibilists, and a strength for incompatibilist theories. I present a new case of indirect manipulation, which I claim does not interfere with the manipulated agent's freedom under libertarian criteria. I argue that the only promising libertarian response to my case would undermine Widerker's response to Frankfurt cases, which I take to be the best libertarian strategy for dealing with Frankfurt-type manipulation. I outline a satisfactory compatibilist explanation of my case.
I argue that the standard Bayesian solution to the ravens paradox— generally accepted as the most successful solution to the paradox—is insufficiently general. I give an instance of the paradox which is not solved by the standard Bayesian solution. I defend a new, more general solution, which is compatible with the Bayesian account of confirmation. As a solution to the paradox, I argue that the ravens hypothesis ought not to be held equivalent to its contrapositive; more interestingly, I argue that (...) how we formally represent hypotheses ought to vary with the context of inquiry. This explains why the paradox is compelling, while dealing with standard objections to holding hypotheses inequivalent to their contrapositives. (shrink)
The preface paradox does not show that it can be rational to have inconsistent beliefs, because preface writers do not have inconsistent beliefs. I argue, first, that a fully satisfactory solution to the preface paradox would have it that the preface writer's beliefs are consistent. The case here is on basic intuitive grounds, not the consequence of a theory of rationality or of belief. Second, I point out that there is an independently motivated theory of belief – sensitivism – which (...) allows such a solution. I sketch a sensitivist account of the preface writer's (consistent) doxastic state. (shrink)
This paper commences with an introductory segment that considers infonnation technology generally. This leads into a discussion of the Internet, which is important both in its own right and also because it is the primary instance of the notion of "information infrastructure." The concept cyberspace is introduced as a means of appreciating what it is that people who use the Internet experience. Building on this foundation, the presentation then briefly reviews ethical aspects of individual behaviour, communities, corporate behaviour, and governmental (...) behaviour. A further section considers regulation, both by governments and through electronic community and Internet infrastructure. (shrink)
The importance of personal freedoms is commonly couched in terms of psychology, sociology, culture, and to some extent economics. This paper examines the political dimension. Dissident thought is crucial to a healthy polity, but is dependent on people being able to sustain multiple identities, and nyms.