The Ethics of Second-Order Beliefs

Avishai Margalit

The questions I address my paper are: Are people morally responsible for their beliefs? Are people's beliefs voluntary - can they be chosen and decided upon? What is the nature of the analogy between obligation of belief and the obligation of have certain emotions and not others? Can the skeptic suspend his belief? And finally, what is the sin of the heretic? I argue that it is right and proper for belief to be evaluated morally even if they are not voluntary and therefore not under our control. The key to my view is the fact that human beings possess second-order as well as first-order beliefs.

March, 1994
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