Reason/Cause for Belief Distinction

“Moreover, there’s a distinction to be drawn between reasons for believing some premise and causes for believing that premise. The reason why we draw this distinction is because it turns out that belief is both an epistemic and a psychological notion. It’s fascinating what work is being done in philosophy, not only in [______244______] logic, but also in the philosophy of psychology—on the notion of belief itself. At the time that I did my doctoral dissertation which was specifically on the subject of self-deception, much of this work on the notion of belief was relevant. This belief is not simply an epistemic notion—a bearer of truth; something subject to proof or disproof—it’s also a psychological notion. Accordingly, sometimes people believe things and the causes for their belief are not really related to the reasons they offer at all. You know that, don’t you? You know people who want to believe, for instance, in the innocence of the Hillary Clinton, and the causes of your belief have nothing to do with the evidence that might or might not be offered. This distinction between causes and beliefs (just to give you a little bit of a philosophical preview, you might just study this some time) especially comes to the fore when we look at conflict states within people and in their thinking. When we deal with irrational beliefs, or we deal with beliefs that are somehow more [__264___] selfcondemnatory. I believe that’s when we get ripe for self-deception. When people are caused to believe something because they want to defend themselves against the, well, the self-condemnation of knowing that they killed their own child—or they’re responsible for some act they think is reprehensible, or whatever it may be. So causes of belief, reason for belief have to be distinguished.”

(Bahnsen, Answering Frame’s Critique of Van Til)


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