The ethics of belief

In some places, Clifford seems simply to presume that epistemic duty is a species of ethical duty. In the first case he is lying, and his moral character is to blame; in the second case he is ignorant or mistaken, and it is only his knowledge or his judgment which is in fault.

If A were the right way to articulate obligations in the ethics of belief, then we would have far more prima facie doxastic obligations than we realize.

He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. The Victorian crisis of faith was another questioning of age-old certainties, and in part a reaction to the emergence of science as a serious competitor to Christianity for explaining the universe.

Be curious and passionate in the pursuit of knowledge. An awful privilege, and an awful responsibility, that we should help to create the world in which posterity will live.

Can we suppose that this magnificent genius, this splendid moral hero, has lied to us about the most solemn and sacred matters? The man would not have been innocent, he would only have been not found out. That is, we add to our experience on the assumption of a uniformity in the characters of men.

The obligation will be particularly powerful though still prima facie if E cannot be achieved other than through belief that p, and if you are or should be aware of that fact. The story is that of a shipowner who, once upon a time, was inclined to sell tickets for a transatlantic voyage.

The Ethics of Belief

We sin grievously against our moral and intellectual duty when we form beliefs on insufficient evidence, or ignore or dismiss evidence that is relevant to our beliefs. For although they had sincerely and conscientiously believed in the charges they had made, yet they had no right to believe on such evidence as was before them.

No man holding a strong belief on one side of a question, or even wishing to hold a belief on one side, can investigate it with such fairness and completeness as if he were really in doubt and unbiased; so that the existence of a belief not founded on fair inquiry unfits a man for the performance of this necessary duty.

It is admitted that he did sincerely believe in the soundness of his ship; but the sincerity of his conviction can in no wise help him, because he had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him. Be thorough in your intellectual work.

Will that diminish the guilt of her owner?

Ethics of belief

It is an assumption of uniformity in nature, and can only be checked by comparison with many similar assumptions which we have to make in other such cases. If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it--the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.

It may matter little to me, in my cloud-castle of sweet illusions and darling lies; but it matters much to Man that I have made my neighbours ready to deceive.

The Ethics of Belief (1877)

This sense of power is the highest and best of pleasures when the belief on which it is founded is a true belief, and has been fairly earned by investigation. The general idea is that if something is beneficial, and believing that p will help us achieve, acquire, or actualize that thing, then it is prima facie prudent for us to believe that p.

Clifford Originally published in Contemporary Review, He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had The ethics of belief repairs.

In the absence of those conditions, James reverts happily to a broadly Evidentialist picture see Gale, Kasser and Shahand Aikin Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections.

A burnt child dreads the fire, because it believes that the fire will burn it to-day just as it did yesterday; but this belief goes beyond experience, and assumes that the unknown fire of to-day is like the known fire of yesterday. Shall we steal and tell lies because we have had no personal experience wide enough to justify the belief that it is wrong to do The ethics of belief Because our knowledge of this uniformity is far less complete and exact than our knowledge of that which obtains in physics, inferences of the historical kind are more precarious and less exact than inferences in many other sciences.

In contrast, moderate Evidentialists take their principles to be exceptionable; thus they allow that there are some circumstances in which subjects are rationally permitted to form beliefs in the absence of sufficient evidence.

Every man who has accepted the statement from somebody else, without himself testing and verifying it, is out of court; his word is worth nothing at all. This issue, too, has an effect on the ethics of belief. Unsurprisingly, the compartmentalization of science and religion was and continues to be an attractive expedient to some.

Madigan, Cambridge Scholars,pps. The Buddha says that there is no God, and that we shall be annihilated by and by if we are good enough. The first half of the question: Base your beliefs on credible, well-substantiated evidence.

That it is right to be beneficent is matter of immediate personal experience; for when a man retires within himself and there finds something, wider and more lasting than his solitary personality, which says, "I want to do right," as well as, "I want to do good to man," he can verify by direct observation that one instinct is founded upon and agrees fully with the other.

If I steal money from any person, there may be no harm done from the mere transfer of possession; he may not feel the loss, or it may prevent him from using the money badly.

These are given as conceptions, not as statements or propositions; they answer to certain definite instincts which are certainly within us, however they came there.Morals are a internal to the individual, a personal understanding and belief in what is right and wrong.

Ethics are rules, constraints or principles of conduct set by others in external situations. of over 20, results for "ethics of belief" The Ethics Of Belief Aug 12, by William Kingdon Clifford and William James.

Paperback. $ $ 9 95 Prime. Smith resumes his discussion of whether beliefs per se can be immoral. Some readers may recall that I began this series by discussing the ethics of belief, only to get sidetracked into considering. The Ethics of Belief () William K.

Clifford. Originally published in Contemporary Review, Reprinted in Lectures and Essays (). Presently in print in The Ethics of Belief and Other. The Ethics of Belief [William Kingdon Clifford, William James] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

William Kingdon Clifford's excellent treatise The Ethics of Belief is in 5/5(6). The “ethics of belief” refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and psychology.

The central question in the debate is whether there are.

The ethics of belief
Rated 5/5 based on 10 review