Vol. 37 No. 2 (2017): Ethics, Law and Cognitive Science

On the Automaticity and Ethics of Belief

Uwe Peters
Centre for Logic and Analytic Philosophy, KU Leuven Department of Economics, University College London, UK

Published 2017-12-21


  • automaticity,
  • believing,
  • epistemic obligations,
  • ethics of belief,

How to Cite

Peters, U. (2017). On the Automaticity and Ethics of Belief. Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 37(2), 99–114. https://doi.org/10.4454/teoria.v37i2.20


Recently, philosophers have appealed to empirical studies to argue that whenever we think about a proposition p, we automatically believe p. Levy and Mandelbaum have gone further and claimed that the automaticity of believing has implications for the ethics of belief in that it creates epistemic obligations for those who know about their automatic belief acquisition. I use theoretical considerations and psychological findings to raise doubts about the empirical case for the view that we automatically believe what we think. Furthermore, I contend that even if we set these doubts aside, Levy and Mandelbaum’s argument to the effect that the automaticity of believing creates epistemic obligations remains unconvincing.