Skip to main content Accessibility help


  • Robert Audi


This paper concerns a problem that has received insufficient analysis in the philosophical literature so far: the conditions under which an information-bearing state – say a perception or recollection – yields belief. The paper distinguishes between belief and a psychological property easily conflated with belief, illustrates the tendency of philosophers to overlook this distinction, and offers a positive conception of the mind's information-responsiveness that requires far less belief-formation – and far less formation of other propositional attitudes – than has been commonly supposed to be produced by perception and other experiences. This conception is clarified by a partial sketch of the natural economy of mind. The paper then considers two important questions the conception raises. Does it force us to abandon the venerable belief-desire conception of intentional action, and does it require expanding the domain of intellectual responsibility and thereby our conception of epistemic virtue?


Corresponding author


Hide All
Aiken, S. 2010. Epistemology and the Regress Problem. London: Routledge.
Armstrong, D. M. 1973. Belief, Truth and Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Audi, R. 1982. ‘Believing and Affirming.’ Mind, 91: 115–21.
Audi, R. 1986. ‘Acting for Reasons.’ Philosophical Review, 95(4): 511–46.
Audi, R. 1994. ‘Dispositional Beliefs and Dispositions to Believe.’ Noûs, 28(4): 419–34.
Audi, R. 2006. Practical Reasoning and Ethical Decision. London: Routledge.
Audi, R. 2007. ‘Justifying Grounds, Justified Beliefs, and Rational Acceptance.’ In Timmons, M., Greco, J. and Mele, A. R. (eds), Rationality and the Good: Critical Essays on the Ethics and Epistemology of Robert Audi. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Audi, R. 2010. Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge. London: Routledge.
Audi, R. 2015. ‘Intuition and its Place in Ethics.’ Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 1(1): 5777.
Broome, J. 2001. ‘Are Intentions Reasons? And How Should We Cope with Incommensurable Values?’ In Morris, C. and Ripstein, A. (eds), Practical Rationality and Preference: Essays for David Gauthier. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Byrne, A. 2010. ‘Knowing What I See.’ In Smithies, D. and Stoljar, D. (eds), Introspection and Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dormandy, K. 2018. ‘Resolving Religious Disagreements: Evidence and Bias.Faith and Philosophy, 35(1): 5683.
Fricker, M. 2007. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Green, M. 2010. ‘Perceiving Emotions.’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 84: 4561.
Grice, H. P. 1957. ‘Meaning.’ Philosophical Review, 66(3): 377–88.
Heil, J. 1982. ‘Seeing is Believing.’ American Philosophical Quarterly, 19(3): 229–39.
Holton, R. 2009. Willing, Wanting, Waiting. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Klein, P. D. 2011. ‘Infinitism.’ In Bernecker, S. and Pritchard, D. (eds), The Routledge Companion to Epistemology, pp. 245–56. London: Routledge.
Maddy, P. 1980. ‘Perception and Mathematical Intuition.’ Philosophical Review, 84(2): 163–96.
Nottelmann, N. (ed.) 2013. New Essays on Belief: Structure, Constitution and Content. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Orlandi, N. 2013. ‘Embedded Seeing: Vision in the Natural World.’ Noûs, 67(4): 727–47.
Pelser, A. 2010. ‘Belief in Reid's Theory of Perception.’ History of Philosophy Quarterly, 27(4): 359–78.
Pitcher, G. 1971. A Theory of Perception. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Reid, T. 1983. An Inquiry into the Human Mind: On the Principles of Common Sense. Excerpted in Beanblossom, R. E. and Lehrer, K. (eds), Thomas Reid: Inquiry and Essays. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.
Rosenberg, J. F. and Travis, C. 1971. Readings in the Philosophy of Language, p. 441. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Ryan, S. 1996. ‘The Epistemic Virtues of Consistency.’ Synthese, 109(2): 121–41.
Schwitzgebel, E. 2011. ‘Belief.’ In Bernecker, S. and Pritchard, D. (eds), The Routledge Companion to Epistemology, pp. 1424. London: Routledge.
Searle, J. 1983. Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Siegel, S. 2016. The Rationality of Perception. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Steup, M. Forthcoming. ‘Benign Infinity.’ In Fitelson, B. et al. (eds), Themes from Klein. Synthese Library, vol. 404.
van Cleve, J. 2015. Problems from Reid. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Williamson, T. 2000. Knowledge and its Limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Williamson, T. 2007. ‘On Being Justified in One's Head.’ In Timmons, M., Greco, J. and Mele, A. R. (eds), Rationality and the Good: Critical Essays on the Ethics and Epistemology of Robert Audi. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 1742-3600
  • EISSN: 1750-0117
  • URL: /core/journals/episteme
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed