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Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E pistemology Since Plato defined knowledge as justified belief plus a logos , belief has been a central concept in epistemology. Many discussions in the theory of knowledge take belief rather than knowledge as their starting-point. It is generally thought that belief is inherently relational and thus needs an object. Belief has often been represented as a state available to introspection with a certain relation to a present image or complex of images. The object of belief has been variously understood to be an actual or possible sensory state, a state of affairs, or a proposition. “I believe that P” means that I have an attitude of acceptance toward P, with some (possibly inconclusive) reason. But functionalism disputes the view that belief must have an object. Traditionally, belief is considered as a state of mind serving as a causal factor in behavior, but Ryle argued that belief is a tendency to say or to do something, rather than a state of mind. Most analyses of belief hold that beliefs are either true or false, although intuitionists hold that some beliefs are neither true nor false. In addition, probabilism or probability theory holds that belief comes in degrees. There is also an eliminativist rejection of belief as a postulated entity in outdated folk psychology. Major philosophical issues about belief include the possibility of infallible belief as the ultimate ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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