The other day a vet friend of mine who believes in a kind of conspiracy theory (in no way connected to politics) asked me why I felt it was so important to try and convince him of his error.

It took some soul searching and thinking to figure out why I feel the need to set the record straight on many things. I’m not just talking about political bunk but on many issues.

During a web search, I found the term Epistemic Responsibility which also goes by the name of Intellectual responsibility.

I discovered a 10-minute video from PBS on Crash Courses in Philosophy that defines it. While I did not agree with either end of the philosophical view presented in the video, I did come to a middle ground in understanding why and how I function.

The two views of epistemic responsibility presented in the Crash Course in Philosophy are below.

  1. It Is Wrong, Always, Everywhere, And For Anyone, To
    Believe Anything Upon Insufficient Evidence ~ W. K. Clifford’s influential essay, The Ethics of Belief
  2. William James argued against Clifford’s view by stating that certain beliefs did not need to be provable to remain intellectually honest.

My view is, as long as you understand your beliefs are beliefs and facts are facts then you can remain intellectually honest.

I’ve acted this way for a long time without knowing there was a philosophic argument for this behavior. There can be very negative consequences for people and society that hold false beliefs as facts.

When it comes to politics, be careful what you believe. Do your best to separate facts and belief. It’s OK to have beliefs and opinions as long as we remember that is what they are. As the saying goes, we are entitled to our own set of opinions but we are not entitled to our own set of facts.