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Why Belief is No Game

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In 'The Game of Belief', Barry Maguire and Jack Woods nicely set out a broadly "pragmatist" understanding of normativity.  In this post, I'll try to explain why I think it is misguided, and what alternative understanding we should adopt instead.The gist of M&W's view is that practical reasons (including for belief and other attitudes) are the only truly authoritative normative reasons, but there are also all kinds of (non-authoritative) practice-relative normative reasons that provide "standards of correctness" -- e.g. for playing chess "correctly" (i.e. strategically well) or even for believing "correctly" (i.e. in line with purely epistemic standards).  We will often, but not always, have practical reasons to do things "correctly"--that just depends upon circumstantial details.My biggest complaint about this sort of view is that it completely divorces reasons from rationality.  They conceive of reasons as things that support (either by the authoritative standard of value, or some practice-relative standard of correctness) rather than as things that rationalize.  As a result, they miss an important disanalogy between practice-relative "reasons" and epistemic reasons: violating the latter, but not the former, renders one (to some degree) irrational, or liable to rational criticism.Of course, there are more important things than being rational: I'm all in favour of "rational irrationality" -- taking magic pills that will make you crazy if that's essential to save the world from an evil demon or the like.  But I still think its important to recognize rationality as the objective/"authoritative" standard of correctness for our cognitive/agential functioning.  It's really importantly different from mere practice-relative reasons, which I don't think are properly conceived of as normative at all.  There's really nothing genuinely erroneous (irrational) about playing chess badly in order to save the world, in. . .

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