Strong Belief Is Ordinarynull, Roger Clarke (University of British Columbia)
Is Belief Weak?
Abstract: 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.