For full text PDF Click Here: The All-Things-Considered Approach to the Ethics of Belief
Abstract: Contra Allen Wood's neo-Cliffordian evidentialism (see his "The Duty to Believe According to the Evidence" in footnote 9), I argue that we have both moral permission, and in some cases a moral duty, to believe claims without proper evidence. Since a person's religious belief can sometimes provide prudential benefits (reassurance) and negatively or positively affect one's family (depending on their beliefs), this applies perhaps most clearly to religious agnostics with devoutly religious family members (i.e. when a agnostic's family is earnestly concerned that that their relative's disbelief will condemn their soul to eternal damnation). However, this "All-Things-Considered" approach to the ethics of belief is content neutral, and in some cases could actually recommend religious abstinence (i.e. for persons with devoutly irreligious family members who are genuinely ashamed by their loved one's religiosity). Thus, simply examining the evidence for and against a claim is not enough to determine whether one should believe it. Taking seriously our moral obligations to our families demands that we can only determine what we ethically should believe after considering our beliefs' impact on our selves and loved ones.