Category Archives: Jonathan Adler

Full awareness

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

So why is conceptual normativity not enough for an ethics of belief? That’s the question on everyone’s lips.

To try to answer it we’ll go back to Jonathan Adler’s ‘full awareness’1 condition.2

If we’re saying (as Adler does) that this condition is something which we need to impose, or assume, that would imply that we could acquire or hold a belief without it.

Eyes
[Photo: Anna Bal]
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Cellophane flowers of yellow and green

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

We came up with our test-case descriptive belief a while back:

I believe you are taking recreational drugs.

And we also said this could be just another way of asserting:

You are taking recreational drugs.

Jonathan Adler would agree. He sees a belief as simply what we regard as true: ‘what I believe is just how things are’1 for me.

Tablets and capsules
[Photo: Würfel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]
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Raising expectations

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

We talked last time about normativity in general, and normativity in relation to believing.

A good example of a normative word is ‘proper’. Jonathan Adler says that if I believe something, ‘p’, my believing that p is only ‘proper’ if my ‘evidence establishes that p is true’.

My belief would then be ‘in accord with the concept of belief’.1

Thinking
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Normativity

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

I am trying to promote the idea of a moral principle (‘EP3’: see for example A moral universe) governing how we acquire and hold descriptive beliefs.

Descriptive beliefs are about what is or is not the case. They exclude for example beliefs representing our personal preferences and beliefs about what ought to be the case.

I am going to use the word ‘normativity’ to refer to any aspect of anything which relates to whether it ought to be, whether it is permissible, whether it is justified, and so on.

Moses receiving the Ten Commandments
1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld
Moses receiving the Ten Commandments
1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld
[Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]
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Susan Haack: “The Ethics of Belief” Reconsidered #2

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

What has drinking and driving got to do with the ethics of belief?

I’ll get to that.

Our current question is: ‘What has epistemic appraisal of belief got to do with moral appraisal of belief – or vice versa?’

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Susan Haack: “The Ethics of Belief” Reconsidered #1

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

For a short time in 1970 a lady by the name of Susan Haack had the unenviable task of teaching me Logic.

Many years later she published a paper1 which our meanderings have now brought us to.

The last few instalments have looked at Jonathan Adler’s ‘intrinsic’ approach to the ethics of belief: see Jonathan Adler: Belief’s Own Ethics #1 onwards. Adler sees the ethics of belief as ‘imposed by the concept of belief itself’,2 not as a matter of the rationality or morality of belief.

We’ll have more to say about Adler later. But now I want to return to the idea of an evidence principle expressed in moral terms.

Susan Haack in 2015
Susan Haack in 2015 [Photo: Atfyfe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]
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Jonathan Adler: Belief’s Own Ethics #4

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

Last time we got as far as step four of Adler’s ‘filtering’1 process which was to test if a belief meets his ‘full awareness condition’. After step two the substituted belief was:

Tony is in the ice cream parlour.

Step four was then to ask of this belief whether it is really coherent to believe, or assert, that:

Tony is in the ice cream parlour, but I lack sufficient evidence that he is.

Ice cream parlor
Photo: Alex Robert alexrobert, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Jonathan Adler: Belief’s Own Ethics #3

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

I openly believe both that I believe that it is raining outside and that I do so because I see the rain through the window.1

This is how Adler illustrates his ‘condition of full awareness’. This is another important aspect of his first-person approach (see previous instalment). 

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Jonathan Adler: Belief’s Own Ethics #2

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

Jonathan Adler’s ‘conceptual’, ‘intrinsic’ or ‘objective’ version of evidentialism is not ‘about how one ought to believe (rationally, wisely, or ethically)’.

Instead:

One’s believing that p is proper (i.e., in accord with the concept of belief) if and only if one’s evidence establishes that p is true.1

The relation between belief and evidence does not require ‘shoring up from tendentious doctrines of ethics, epistemology, or rationality’.

Donald Davidson
Donald Davidson
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Jonathan Adler: Belief’s Own Ethics #1

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

This is how my evidence principle is currently worded:

[EP3] If anything is morally wrong, then it is morally wrong to believe anything, within the category of descriptive belief, on insufficient evidence, in the absence of any conflicting and overriding moral imperative.

Last time I suggested a reason for thinking EP3 could perhaps apply to any descriptive belief.

There could be obligations implicit in belief language itself. These obligations would relate to the expectations our listeners might be justified in having when they hear any descriptive belief vocalised.

Particularly, perhaps, if our understanding of ‘belief’ is anything like Jonathan Adler’s.

Jonathan E Adler Belief's Own Ethics
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