An Essay on Belief and Acceptance by L. Jonathan Cohen

By L. Jonathan Cohen

During this incisive new e-book one among Britain's most outstanding philosophers explores the often-overlooked rigidity among voluntariness and involuntariness in human cognition. He seeks to counter the common tendency for analytic epistemology to be ruled through the concept that of trust. Is clinical wisdom correctly conceived as being embodied, at its most sensible, in a passive feeling of trust or in an lively coverage of reputation? should still a jury's verdict claim what its contributors involuntarily think or what they voluntarily settle for? and will statements and assertions be presumed to precise what their authors think or what they settle for? Does any such contrast among trust and recognition support to unravel the paradoxes of self-deception and akrasia? needs to humans be taken to think every thing entailed through what they think, or simply to simply accept every little thing entailed via what they settle for? via a scientific exam of those difficulties, the writer sheds new mild on problems with an important value in modern epistemology, philosophy of brain, and cognitive science.

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Again, adopting x as one's goal may sometimes cause or help to cause desire for x, as when entering for a competition-maybe quite light-heartedly-comes to generate a desire to win it. We may compare how acceptance tends to promote belief (p. 18). But adopting x as one's goal or policy is not a possible reason for desiring x, just as accepting that p is not a reason for believing that p. On the other hand, just as belief that p is a prima facie reason for accepting that p, so too having a desire for x is certainly one 46 Purposive Explanation possible reason for adopting x as one's goal (though it may well not be the only, or the best reason, or even a sufficient one).

Like beliefs they can be planted in one's mind by events or by other people, but not by oneself. They are dispositions to have certain feelable yearnings, cravings, wishes, likings, or hankerings. And, like beliefs, they may vary in strength or weakness. Desire that p, however, is not entailed by a disposition to bring it about that p, any more than belief that p is entailed by a disposition to act in accordance with that belief (pp. 8-11). Indeed, your actions on appropriate occasions mayor may not be caused by the beliefs and desires that the actions appear to suggest.

He might in fact have shot George in order to kill his wife's lover, say, even though he also 2 Compare D. Dennett, Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psyc,hology (Hassocks: Harvester Press, 1979), pp. 300-9, with D. Dennett, The Intentional Stance (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1983), pp. 13-35,43-68, etc. 3 See L. J. Cohen, 'Teleological Explanation', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 51 (1951), pp. 255-92. 42 Purposive Explanation desired there to be a vacancy declared on the parish council and believed that shooting George would cause such a vacancy to be declared.

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