Analysis of Clifford's "The Ethics of Belief"

Topics: Belief, William Kingdon Clifford, Critical thinking Pages: 2 (743 words) Published: April 15, 2013
#2 Clifford offers several different reasons why he thinks our beliefs are not merely our own private business. Explain two of those reasons. Which of the two do you think is a more compelling reason to think our beliefs are not our private business? Does the more compelling reason convince you that your beliefs are everyone’s business? Why or why not?

William Kingdon Clifford was an English Mathematician and Philosopher who lived from 1845 to 1879. In 1877, he wrote “The Ethics of Belief”; which was an essay to emphasize his principle theories on certain grounds. The central point of his essay was to prove that it is always wrong for anyone at any time to accept/believe anything without any supporting significant evidence. This is the general notion followed by modern science today. In the essay, he also talks about his theory that all our beliefs somehow affect others in our society and hence are not merely private business. He says “no one man's belief is in any case a private matter which concerns himself alone” (Clifford, I). He states various reasons to support his theory. I will discuss two of them. One of the reasons that Clifford gives us is that “all beliefs come from some sort of action and actions affect others in our society” (Clifford, I). Another reason that he gives us is that each of our beliefs gets passed on to others to some extent through communication and therefore affect the general opinion of the everyday public (Clifford, I). He also states that each belief a person accepts on poor grounds makes him more vulnerable to believe something false in the near future hence affecting the general opinion of humanity. I personally think the second reason is a more compelling reason to think that our beliefs are not our private business. The first reason does not fit into every scenario according to me and therefore doesn’t do a better job than the second reason to explain why our beliefs are not merely our private matter. I think the second...
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