This month, we discuss reasons for action and belief with Mark Schroeder, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. Click here to listen to our conversation.
Consider one question from this episode. Can we decide what to believe, the way we decide how to act? We can, for instance, decide to worship at a church or temple. But if we do so in January in Chicago, can we decide to believe that the weather on our way to worship is warm? Or, more significantly, can we decide to believe in God? Pascal (in)famously suggested that we should in fact decide to believe in God. He suggested that if we believe in God when we needn’t, we waste a bit of time; but that if we don’t believe and good when we need to, we condemn ourselves eternally. That reasoning may seem right, but many have noted that it does not much help one actually believe in God. Then again, if one finds oneself in a crisis, one may indeed find one’s self believing in God, if only for lack of other hope. In such circumstances, has one decided to believe in God? Does one have reason to? (Perhaps this helps explain why religion often looks beyond reason, to such “unreasonable” traditions as readings, rites, and roles.)
Anyway, join us as our guest helps us consider structures with which to investigate such questions about our reasons for action and belief.