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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 20, 1995

Frederick Adams
Pages 549-561

You’ve Got to Believe

Sue knows that, unaided, she cannot lift the 1,000 pound weight, but surely she can try. Can she not? For even if she believes it is impossible to succeed in lifting the weight, trying to lift the weight need not involve success. So surely, it would seem that nothing could be easier than for Sue to give lifting the weight a try. In this paper, I agrue that, appearances aside, it is not possible for someone to try to do what that person believes to be impossible. So, on this view, perhaps surprisingly, not only would it be impossible for Sue to lift the weight, but it would be impossible for her to try (as long as she believed her lifting it to be impossible). I defend this view in the context of a package of related claims and a functional accoung of trying and intentional action.

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