Professor Kathrin Glüer-Pagin
Professor Kathrin Glüer-Pagin

The Nature of Belief

Brief description: The project investigates the nature of belief, the state of mind we have when we take something to be the case. Together with desire, belief plays a central role in our everyday understanding of ourselves. We invoke these states to explain, justify, and predict mental states and actions. This motivates traditional attempts at characterizing belief by its functional role: the way it is formed on the basis of, and results in, other mental states and actions. It also suggests an essential connection between belief and rationality. At the same time, both experimental psychology and everyday experience provide data suggesting a great deal of irrational belief: perseverent belief, implicit bias, delusion, etc. A central challenge for a theory of belief is therefore to capture the essential reason-providing role of belief while allowing for irrational belief. Our project is to develop an original version of functionalism addressing this challenge: ‘Reason-Providing Functionalism’ (RPF).

Professor Åsa Wikforss
Professor Åsa Wikforss

The project has five main parts:

1) working out RPF in full detail, characterizing belief in terms of its reason providing role, i.e. the role it plays in theoretical and practical reasoning, and showing how the theory can account for irrational belief;

2) investigating the conception of rationality RPF is based on;

3) investigating whether RPF allows the mind to be extended;

4) investigating the question of how we know our own beliefs;

5) investigating the relation between belief and perception.

For more information about the project, contact Kathrin Glüer-Pagin or Åsa Wikforss.

This project was granted funding from the Swedish Research Council's General call for applications 2013 (Humanities and social sciences)