Acting Contrary to Our Professed Beliefs, or The Gulf Between Occurrent Judgment and Dispositional Belief

Eric Schwitzgebel

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 91 (2010), 531-553.

People often sincerely assert or judge one thing (for example, that all the races are intellectually equal) while at the same time being disposed to act in a way evidently quite contrary to the espoused attitude (for example, in a way that seems to suggest an implicit assumption of the intellectual superiority of their own race).  Such cases should be regarded as ‘in-between’ cases of believing, in which it’s neither quite right to ascribe the belief in question nor quite right to say that the person lacks the belief.

This essay has evolved considerably from its 2005 version, to which I link below because the earlier version contains quite a bit of material that is no longer present, but which some people might find interesting.  The 2010 version explicitly addresses the flurry of new essays on this now "hot" topic and it explains in more detail why I think the recognition of "in-between" belief in such cases is pragmatically important.  I provide both versions below.

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Acting Contrary to Our Professed Beliefs (PDF)

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Acting Contrary to Our Professed Beliefs (HTML, May 25, 2010)

This essay has changed immensely from its original 2005 version, and the 2005 version has some thoughts in it that didn't make it into the 2010 version, but which I am still rather fond of.  That old version is here:

Acting Contrary to Our (Professed) Beliefs, Old Version (PDF, May 24, 2005)

Or email eschwitz at domain: for a copy of this paper.


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