Benjamin WALD

ABSTRACT: Belief has a special connection to truth, a connection not shared by mental states like imagination. One way of capturing this connection is by the claim that belief aims at truth. Normativists argue that we should understand this claim as a normative claim about belief – beliefs ought to be true. A second important connection between belief and truth is revealed by the transparency of belief, i.e. the fact that, when I deliberate about what to believe, I can settle this deliberation only by appeal to considerations I take to show p to be true. It is natural to think that there is a connection between these two features of belief, that the fact that believing for non-evidential considerations would be irrational can help to explain why it is impossible, and Shah and Velleman make exactly this argument. However, as I shall argue, we cannot explain transparency on the basis of a normative requirement on belief. For this explanation to work non-evidential considerations would have to fail to be reasons for belief, and we would have to be able to explain why we are unable to form beliefs on the basis of non-evidential considerations by appealing to the fact that they fail to be reasons for belief. However, while it is plausible that non-evidential considerations are not in fact reasons for belief, the explanatory picture is the other way around. Such considerations only fail to be reasons for belief because we are unable to form beliefs on their basis.

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