As always, comments and criticisms welcome, either by email to my address or in the comments section on this post.
Suppose that someone sincerely judges something to be so (for example, that the working poor deserve as much respect as the handsomely paid) but does not tend to act and react in ways consonant with that judgment (for example, in real-time interactions with people they tend to find it more appropriate to distribute greater respect to the wealthy than to the poor). What should we say such a person believes? Intellectualist approaches align belief with sincere, reflective judgment and downplay the importance of habitual, spontaneous reaction and unreflective assumption. Broad-based approaches do not privilege the intellectual and reflective over the spontaneous and habitual in matters of belief. It is open to us, as philosophers of mind, to choose either approach, depending on our practical interests in constructing a metaphysics of belief. Since “belief” is a term of central importance in philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and epistemology, we should use it to label most important phenomenon in the vicinity that can plausibly answer to it. The most important phenomenon in the vicinity is not our patterns of intellectual endorsement but rather our overall lived patterns of action and reaction. Too intellectualist a view risks hiding the importance of lived behavior, especially when that behavior does not match our ideals and self-conception, and thus invites us to noxiously comfortable views of ourselves.
The Pragmatic Metaphysics of Belief (in draft)
(I'll be giving a version of this paper as talk at USC on Friday, by the way.)
Against Intellectualism about Belief (Jul 31, 2015)
Pragmatic Metaphysics (Feb 11, 2016)