View Full Version : What comes first, the reasons or the beliefs

06-04-2009, 05:49 PM
Put a more Socratic way

Do we believe things, because we have reasons to believe things?


Do we have reasons, Because we believe?

put another way, do we start with the belief, and then find/discover reasons to shore up the belief/idea we want to hold up as true?

I suspect ALOT of what we do falls into the latter category, all of us.

One of the biggest tell tale signs of a person who seems deeply affected by the latter practice is when the arguments they hold up for reasons why they believe something have NO bearing on whether they will continue to believe said idea.

It's THIS kind of person.

I believe A.

I believe A because of B, C, D, and E.

opponent knocks out the underpinnings of B, C, D, and E, and the person who believes A does NOT reconsider, but launches into other reasons to believe in the form of F, G, H, I.

To me, it suggests that such a person starts with the belief, then find reasons to shore up that belief later on. It's like watching a 911 truther.

That is how I came about my tolerance of abortion stance. I started off wanting it to be OK to have an abortion. And after I had the goal in mind I systematically discovered reasonings I considered self consistent with such a view.

The thing is, there may in fact be reasons underlying all our beliefs, but perhaps those reasons lie in the emotional or attitudinal realm and cannot be readily or consciously translated to others, so we manufacture other reasons that function well enough, but have no ultimate bearing on our position whether those supports stand or fall.

I want to understand it better though so I can more effectively cut through the armor of people and slice out the core of the beast I am arguing against. It's like attacking a retrovirus with some people or those parasites that just shed a layer of "skin." I take no pleasure in battling a hydra with regenerative heads armed only with a common sword. I want the silver bullet, the killshot, the secret weapon of rhetoric and technique that would allow me to identify the problem so I could take out the impediment to my way of thinking...


But the answer is more complex than I can conceive of.

06-05-2009, 10:25 PM
To an extent I agree with you, but there are times when A) people have no personal experience that would lead them one way or another, or B) someone is convinced of something contra to their personal motivations. That's why it's still useful to make arguments even though you'll usually just see people you disagree with falling back to other arguments; it's more like piling straw on a camel than chopping heads off a hydra.

In any case, I disagree with an implication here that you may be making or I might be imagining. I don't think people consciously seek out reasons to justify attitudes, but they're naturally more perceptive towards those reasons as well as probably being better situated to observe them. A guy running a convenience store might be skeptical towards food stamps (or EBT now I guess) because the people who pay with them seem intoxicated or smell of alcohol. If his store is somewhere where he's seen this a few times, he's much more likely to continue seeing this and think of it as a universal trend than for their to be a sudden reversal where he only get customers who appear sober and serious.