SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

What is Wrong with Doxastic Wrongdoing
(Ethics, )

A Recently, ethicists and epistemologists have been showing an increasing interest in doxastic wrongdoing. The leading question is whether beliefs can morally wrong people, or only actions can do that. In this paper, I will argue that beliefs cannot wrong people. My argument will proceed as follows. First, I will clarify the notion of doxastic wrongdoing: doxastic wrongdoing happens if one person wrongs another in virtue of what she believes about him. Then, I will show that if we accept that beliefs can wrong others, we should also accept that there are moral constraints to what we should believe. If this is true, however, proponents of doxastic wrongdoing face a challenge. Consider the proposition: "Epistemically, all the evidence is in favor of P. But P is an instance of moral wrongdoing against S, thus I should not believe P for moral reasons. So, in order not to wrong S, I do not believe that P". It seems incoherent, however, to assert that you have sufficient evidence for believing P, while contemporarily denying that you believe P due to moral reasons. This proposition recalls versions of Moore's paradox as applied to epistemic justification. Thus, proponents of doxastic wrongdoing should accept that we are Moorean-incoherent in abiding by morality. Accepting doxastic wrongdoing leads us to accept that, on many occasions, it would be extremely difficult - maybe impossible - to jointly believe as we morally ought to and respect the evidence that we have access to. In conclusion, I will offer an alternative explanation to our intuitions about cases in which a belief seems to wrong others. I suspect that beliefs can only indirectly wrong others, and this generated some confusion around the notion of doxastic wrongdoing. Our beliefs influence our actions, and our actions may wrong others. But while there should be moral constraints to our actions, the same does not apply to our beliefs, since they cannot directly wrong others.

Chair: Glenn Anderau
Time: 15:20-15:50, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.004
Remark: (Online Talk)

Lorenzo Testa 
(University of Pavia, )

Testability and Meaning deco