Does a “right to believe” whatever you want to even make sense?

It is bizarre to see a professor of Philosophy discussing whether or not we have the “right to believe” (either pro or con) without addressing the question of whether or not the concept is even coherent – especially since, so far as I can see, it is not!

Surely the best we can choose is to act and speak as if we believe something, but whether or not we actually do believe it is beyond our direct control. If we wish to maintain a belief that is weak, then we may choose to limit our exposure to contrary evidence (though the act of acknowledging that choice is surely evidence that the belief is truly weak, and admission that the belief is vulnerable to destruction by disproof may in fact further weaken it). And if we wish to expunge a belief that we find distressing, then we may well search for contrary evidence. But in either case what we actually believe is a fact about our mental state that we can only observe and have no power to change directly by an act of will.

At least, that’s the way it seems to be for me!


Source: You don’t have a right to believe whatever you want to | Aeon Ideas

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