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The Ethics of Belief

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Philosophy 1020
John Thorp

8. The Ethics of Belief (October 6, 2011) A. Ethics of Belief 1. Faith & Reason: 4 positions i) reason i s the basis of faith - tradition ii) Reason is a buttress for faith - it lends support - it is a foundation iii) Reason contradicts faith: a) reject faith b) embrace faith - you can reject it, or screw it I'm gonna be religious iv) Reason and faith are not at odds: - they have different interests - reason = science - faith = belief 2. Where things stand i) Arguments in favor of the existence of God - ontological argument - cosmological arguments ii) Arguments against the existence of God iii) Pragmatic argument in favor of the rationality of religious belief (Pascal) 3. Clifford's answer to Pascal: He argues that: " is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." - it criticizes his argument - Clifford argues, against Pascal, that a pragmatic justification of the sort is not good enough, not ethical (basing religious belief on that kind of argument) Examples of the ship that sinks: - "... he had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him" - it was a crappy ship, and all the immigrants drown - the ship owner should have known it was going to sink Example of religious persecution on an island: - Conservative group wants to persecute the Liberal group - "... they had no right to believe on such evidence as was before them. Their sincere convictions, instead of being honestly earned by patient inquiring, were stolen by listening to the voice of prejudice and passion." - they pre-judge the issue 4. Differences between Clifford's cases and Pascal's case - in the first case the ship-owner ignores the evidence that is before him - in the second case the persecutors fail to acquire the evidence that is available (they are in the wrong, ignorance) - Clifford's view seems reasonable as far as it goes - but does it really work against Pascal' wager? - in both the ship-owner case, and the religious persecution case, evidence of the truth is available; the fault lies in ignoring the evidence or not seeking it out - no evidence on the existence of God 5. Evidence-based vs. pragmatic wager - we could imagine Clifford replying to this by saying: - okay, but there is a difference between an evidence-based bet or a pragmatically- based bet "On the whole, given all the evidence for and against, it seems likeliest the God does (not) exist" vs. "it's in my best interests to bet in the exist
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