Volume 46, Issue 1, Spring 2018
Can Beliefs Be Wrong?
Three Varieties of Faith
Secular moral philosophy has devoted little attention to the nature and significance of faith. Perhaps this is unsurprising. The significance of faith is typically thought to depend on the truth of theism, and so it may seem that a careful study of faith has little to offer nonreligious philosophy. But I argue that, whether or not theism holds, certain kinds of faith are centrally important virtues, that is, character traits that are morally admirable or admirable from some broader perspective of human flourishing. I discuss three varieties of faith that a virtuous person has in people: faith in herself, faith in people to whom she bears certain personal relationships, and faith in humanity. Coming to understand the nature of these forms of faith and the roles they play in human life promises to deepen our understanding of aspects of moral life and aspects of human flourishing that are poorly grasped. Beyond this, it makes valuable contributions to the literature on self-trust and the literature on epistemic partiality in friendship, and it helps us better understand the relation between our epistemic and practical ideals.