Category Archives: Religion

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 #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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Face to face

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

’I don’t need to believe. I know.’

So said Carl Gustav Jung in 1959 when John Freeman asked him on BBC TV’s Face to Face whether he believed in God.

He later regretted that his reply was too short and too open to misunderstanding. But we’ll leave that can of worms safely shut for now.

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Banging on

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

Last time I explained why I think it’s so important to have a workable principle of good and safe believing.

In short, it’s because we need an antidote for the kind of fake news which led to the storming of the Capitol building, and for the kind of unjustified religious belief which led to 9/11 and the Spanish Inquisition.

Trump supporters storm Capitol building, Washington DC
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Taken for a mug

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

The last few articles (from Fake news and the ethics of belief to If only) have been getting increasingly technical.

It would be unfortunate if this meant losing sight of why I think this stuff about belief and evidence matters.

I am therefore going to backtrack a bit and, at risk of repetition, spell out what for me is the point of all this.

Thank God for President Trump
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Evidence, m’lud

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

Evidence was a 1922 silent film directed by George Archainbaud and starring Elaine Hammerstein.

This article is not about this Evidence however but about evidence as something that may or may not support a belief.

Evidence movie starring Elaine Hammerstein
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What is and what ought to be

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

I was talking last time about 9/11, religious belief and fake news in relation to William Clifford’s 1877 evidence principle:

…it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

Clifford’s principle has come in for a lot of stick over the years from those who saw it as too ‘scientistic’ – ie coming from ‘an exaggerated belief in the principles and methods of science’.

11 September 2001 attacks on New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty
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Fake news and the ethics of belief

First in a series.

On 15 December 2020 I finally graduated with a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. My thesis was on the ethics of belief. It was finished at the end of 2019 and submitted in January. In September I heard the final version had been accepted.

In this Covid year the graduation ceremony was of course a virtual rather than physical event. Even if it had been a physical event I may not have attended in person as we had returned to the UK in 2016.

University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town, Upper Campus
By Adrian Frith – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=845804
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Love in the time of corona

This follows When in doubt, answer a different question.

On BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions 10 April 2020 Jill Morris asked:

Does the coronavirus prove that God does not exist?

Last to respond was Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, who quoted Holocaust survivor Rabbi Hugo Gryn:

‘People sometimes ask me ‘Where was God in Auschwitz?’ I believe God was there himself violated and blasphemed. The real question is ‘Where was man in Auschwitz?’

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