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Res Philosophica

Volume 90, Issue 2, April 2013

Epistemology

E. J. Coffman, Matt Deaton
Pages 147-160
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2013.90.2.3

Problems for Foley’s Accounts of Rational Belief and Responsible Belief

In this paper, we argue that Richard Foley’s account of rational belief faces an as yet undefeated objection, then try to repair one of Foley’s two failed replies to that objection. In §§I-III, we explain Foley’s accounts of all-things-considered rational belief and responsible belief, along with his replies to two pressing objections to those accounts—what we call the Irrelevance Objection(to Foley’s account of rational belief) and the Insufficiency Objection (to his account of responsible belief). In §IV, we argue that both of Foley’s replies to the Irrelevance Objection fail as currently developed, and raise the question whether either of his replies can be salvaged. In §V, we invoke cases involving religious beliefs (broadly construed) to show that one of Foley’s failed replies to the Irrelevance Objection conflicts with his reply to the Insufficiency Objection; and we provide reason to think Foley should resolve this conflict in the latter’s favor. We conclude in §VI by suggesting a way to repair Foley’s other failed reply to the Irrelevance Objection, yielding an improved overall defense of Foley’s accounts of rational and responsible belief. We look forward to discussing the important question to what extent this improved overall defense succeeds.