PHL304NOTES 1 - [email protected] Tuesday 1230-230 WAG 421 TA [email protected] TA(512 236-9014(home TA office hours TH

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[email protected] Tuesday: 1230-230 WAG 421 TA: [email protected] TA #: (512) 236-9014 (home) TA office hours: TH 1245-230 (WAG 408B) PHL304: CONTEMPORARY MORAL PROBLEMS (THE ETHICS OF BELIEF) TEACHER: Markus Glodek William K. Clifford’s “The Ethics of Belief” (1877) What shall we say of him? -Surely this, that he was verily guilty of the death of those men. -It is admitted that he did sincerely believe in the soundness of his ship; but the sincerity of his conviction can in no wise help him, because he had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him. Let us alter the case a little, and suppose that the ship was not unsound after all; that she made her voyage safely, and many others after it. Will that diminish the guilt of the owner? -Not one jot. :: When an action is once done, it is right or wrong forever; no accidental failure of its good or evil fruits can possibly alter that. :: The man would not have been innocent, he would only have been not found out. :: The question of right or wrong has to do with the origin of his belief, not the matter of it; not what it was, but how he got it; not whether it turned out to be true or false, but whether he had a right to believe on such evidence as was before him.” ::”Nor is it truly a belief at all which has not some influence upon the actions of him who holds it. He who truly believes that which prompts him to an action has looked upon the action to lust after it, he has committed it already in his heart. CIRCUMSTANCES: NOT MORALLY RESPONSIBLE IF EXAMINED EVERYTHING AS MUCH AS HE SHOULD HAVE BUT STILL COULD BE LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE. If a belief is not realized immediately in open deeds, it is stored up for the guidance of the future. It goes to make a part of that aggregate of beliefs which is the link between sensation and action at every moment of all our lives, and which is so organized and compacted together that no part of it can be isolated from the rest, but every new addition modifies And no one man’s belief is in any case a private matter, which concerns himself alone. Our lives our guided by that general conception of the course of things which has been created by society for social purposes. Our words, our phrases, our forms and processes and modes of thought, are common property, fashioned and perfected from age to age; an heirloom which every succeeding generation inherits as a precious deposit and a sacred trust to be handled on the next one, not unchanged but enlarged and Clifford: Beliefs should be based on logic (scientific thoughts), not emotions. You should not have an opinion based solely on emotion; you need to back them up with good reasons. Clifford’s
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This note was uploaded on 06/24/2008 for the course PHL 304 taught by Professor Leon during the Summer '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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PHL304NOTES 1 - [email protected] Tuesday 1230-230 WAG 421 TA [email protected] TA(512 236-9014(home TA office hours TH

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