The Right to Believe in Values, Obligations, and Moral Responsibility

We argue against W. K. Clifford’s well-known slogan, “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” We start with the simple example of believing in the existence of values, claiming that anyone is entitled to the belief in values regardless of the evidence. Our second example is the belief in having epistemic agency at least in a minimal sense, to which everyone is entitled. Our last example is the belief in the existence of strong obligations and their perquisite, the existence of moral responsibility. Even though the entitlement to these beliefs does not provide knowledge about their truth because being entitled to sustaining a belief does not imply having positive justification for the belief in question, the entitlement to them demonstrates the falsity of Clifford’s principle.

TAMÁS PAÁR and LÁSZLÓ BERNÁTH are the essay winners of a competition held throughout Central and Eastern Europe, part of a project run by the Ian Ramsey Centre.


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