he Ethics of Belief Part 1: The Duty of Inquiry
Clifford’s claim: Evidentialism
It iwrong always, everywhere and for anyone to believeanything on insufficient evidence.
Whether it is right/wrong to hold a belief depends on whether it is supported by evidence.
Example of the Shipowner:
Old ship, not well built
Often needed repairs in the past
Initial Psychological State
Doubt about seaworthiness
Suspect ship needs maintenance
Overcomes doubt by:
Wishful thinking ; trust in providence
NOT by an investigation
The shipowner’s belief is morally wrong
He had no righ t to the beli f based on the evidence before him
The status of a belief depends on itsorigin
Sincerity and strength of conviction are irrelevant
Whether it turns out to be true is irrelevant
Legitimate route to belief:
Patient investigation, fact gathering, and evidence seeking Belief must withstand test of questioning and investigation
Illegitimate route to belief:
Listening to prejudice and passion
The unfounded belief itself is wrong, not merely the ensuing action
The source of the action’s wrongness is the wrong belief
The action is not wrong just because of itconsequences
The action is wrong because it is based on a belief that oneought not have
Question: What is the ship had sailed safely?
Question: What is the ship sank after careful inspection?
We have a DUTY of inquiry
It is wrong to believe on insufficient evidence because:
1. Beliefs influence actions
Beliefs lead to actions, which have consequences for others
Unjustified beliefs are more likely to be false