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Showing posts from March, 2007

Notes on Clifford's Famous Paper, "The Ethics of Belief"

Notes on Clifford’s “The Ethics of Belief”

1. Thesis: It’s immoral to either form a new belief without sufficient evidence, or to sustain an existing belief by deliberately ignoring doubts and avoiding honest investigation.

2. First Argument: Four Cases
2.1 1st Ship owner case: A ship-owner sincerely believes his ship is seaworthy without sufficient evidence – indeed, against the evidence -- and acts on that belief, and the belief turns out to be false.
2.1.1Verdict: blameworthy
2.1.2 He had no right to believe it, since his evidence didn’t support it

2.2 2nd Ship owner case: Same as before, except the belief turns out to be true:
2.2.1 Verdict: still blameworthy
2.2.2 The rightness or wrongness of holding a belief doesn’t depend on its truth or falsity, but on how one came to believe it.
2.2.3 But in this case, he came to believe it without good evidence, and that’s what makes his believing it immoral

2.3 1st Persecution case: A group of citizens come to sincerely believe, without suffici…