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Res Philosophica

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published on March 15, 2017

Kenny Easwaran
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.1539

The Tripartite Role of Belief
Evidence, Truth, and Action

Belief and credence are often characterized in three different ways—they ought to govern our actions, they ought to be governed by our evidence, and they ought to aim at the truth. If one of these roles is to be central, we need to explain why the others should be features of the same mental state rather than separate ones. If multiple roles are equally central, then this may cause problems for some traditional arguments about what belief and credence must be like. I read the history of formal and traditional epistemology through the lens of these functional roles, and suggest that considerations from one literature might have a role in the other. The similarities and differences between these literatures may suggest some more general ideas about the nature of epistemology in abstraction from the details of credence and belief in particular.

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