Ethics of Belief - Clifford

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Clifford focuses on three main points throughout the Ethics of Belief article. He believes that in order to have a sense of belief one must inquire on the belief, question authority, and the limit the usage of inference. He believes that without these three factors it is difficult to come to a consensus on what are the right and wrong principles of belief. At the beginning of the article Clifford focuses on the duty of inquiry. In order to set the background, Clifford introduces a story about a man who sent a ship out into the sea knowing it was not seaworthy. The ships condition inevitably led to its sinking, and the death of the people aboard. Now, Clifford claims that the man is guilty of the death of these people because, “… he had no right to believe such evidence was before him”(pg 236). This is true for a number of reasons. Paraphrasing what Clifford mentioned, mans belief is never a private matter, and every insignificant moment counts. Clifford states, “…it is not the belief which is judged to be wrong, but the action following upon it”(pg 237). If the man had taken use of his time and taken the extra initiative to double check if the ship was in sea-worthy condition, he could have not been in a guilty position. Skipping this action effected lives of many. Clifford's argues that when one has a belief it does not matter whether the belief is true or false, but rather if it is followed through upon fair grounds. When speaking of the duty of inquiry, it is very important to inquire on the belief and obtain evidence as to create a fair inquiry. Second the weight of authority plays a role in the ethic of belief. One argument throughout the article is supporting the reason why should we believe something that goes beyond our own experience or even beyond the understanding of mankind. People tend to believe men with power and authority, but there may not be a justifiable reason to believe that they are not deluded themselves. Unless a belief...
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