Doxasticism: Belief and the Information-Responsiveness of MindRobert N. Audi (University of Notre Dame)
N602, Menzies Building
Our beliefs are a map of our world. They shape our hopes, direct our desires and intentions, and structure our values. They are multifarious, having a vast range of propositional contents and many kinds of non-propositional objects. They may be about abstract entities; they may be directly about the world of our experience—thus causally connected with external objects—or may concern elements internal to the mind. Beliefs also differ from one another psychologically: in strength, influence on behavior, and accessibility to consciousness. Normatively, they differ in how well-grounded they are. This paper concerns a problem that has received insufficient analysis in the philosophical literature so far: the conditions under which an information-bearing state—say a perception or a recollection—yields belief. The paper distinguishes between belief and a psychological property easily conflated with belief, illustrates the tendency of philosophers to overlook this distinction, and offers a positive conception of the mind’s information-responsiveness that does not require as much belief-formation—doxastic uptake, if you like—as has been commonly supposed to be produced by perception and other experiences. This conception is clarified by a partial sketch of the natural economy of mind. The paper then considers whether the economical view proposed requires abandoning the venerable belief-desire conception of intentional action, and, in the concluding section, suggests some ways in which intellectual responsibility is both clarified and extended by the overall work of the paper.
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