Aims and Exclusivity

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If belief has an aim by being a (quasi) intentional activity, then it ought to be the case that the aim of belief can be weighed against other aims one might have. However, this is not so with the putative truth aim of belief: from the first-person perspective, one can only be motivated by truth considerations in deliberation over what to believe (exclusivity). From this perspective then, the aim cannot be weighed. This problem is captured by David Owens’s Exclusivity Objection to belief having an aim (2003). Conor McHugh (2012; 2013) has responded to this problem by denying the phenomenon of exclusivity and replacing it with something weaker: demandingness. If our deliberation over what to believe is characterised by demandingness and not exclusivity, this allows for the requisite weighing of the truth aim. I argue against such a move by suggesting that where non-epistemic considerations play a role in affecting what we believe, these considerations merely change the standards required for believing in a particular context, they do not provide non-epistemic reasons for forming or withholding belief, which are considered as such from the deliberative perspective. Exclusivity thus remains, and so too does Owens’s objection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721–731
JournalEuropean Journal of Philosophy
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Aim
  • Belief
  • Exclusivity


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