Workshop GRIN – Miriam Schleifer McCormick (University of Richmond)

Belief as Emotion

Workshop on Miriam Schleifer McCormick‘s (University of Richmond) upcoming book.

Where: Room LEA 808, Leacock building, McGill University (855 Sherbrooke St W)., or on Zoom. To access the Zoom meeting, registration is mandatory through this link

*To register to the workshop and get a copy of the preliminary manuscript, please write to:

Abstract/Résumé: In this work, I argue that beliefs are emotions. As such they contain both cognitive and non-cognitive elements. This view helps to solve puzzles in epistemology, the philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and philosophy of religion. Further, there are clearly ethical components to how we conduct our doxastic lives, and thinking of beliefs as emotions helps us to understand the ethics of belief. Indeed, in Believing Against the Evidence: Agency and the Ethics of Belief (Routledge2015), I suggest that we should think of beliefs as much more like emotions than philosophers tend to.  In my new book, I will more fully develop this idea and its implications.

It is commonly held that (i) beliefs are revisable in the face of counter-evidence and (ii) beliefs are connected to actions in reliable and predictable ways. Given such a view, many argue that if a mental state fails to respond to evidence or doesn’t result in the kind of behavior typical or expected of belief, it is not a belief after all, but a different state. Yet, one finds seeming counter examples of resilient beliefs that fail to respond to evidence, or that do not connect to action in the way that is expected. Thinking of beliefs as emotions allows us both to maintain that these problematic cases are beliefs, and offers a way to assess these beliefs which deviate from the standard view so that they are not all, normatively, on par.