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Philosophical Topics

Volume 46, Issue 1, Spring 2018

Can Beliefs Be Wrong?

Sarah K. Paul, Jennifer M. Morton
Pages 75-95
DOI: 10.5840/philtopics20184615

Believing in Others

Suppose some person ‘A’ sets out to accomplish a difficult, long-term goal such as writing a passable PhD thesis. What should you believe about whether A will succeed? The default answer is that you should believe whatever the total accessible evidence concerning A’s abilities, circumstances, capacity for self-discipline, and so forth supports. But could it be that what you should believe depends in part on the relationship you have with A? We argue that it does, in the case where A is yourself. The capacity for “grit” involves a kind of epistemic resilience in the face of evidence suggesting that one might fail, and this makes it rational to respond to the relevant evidence differently when you are the agent in question. We then explore whether similar arguments extend to the case of “believing in” our significant others—our friends, lovers, family members, colleagues, patients, and students.