Tim Crane: Are False Beliefs Irrational?

Tim Crane, The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist’s Point of View (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017), 149-150.

I will say that someone can have a reason for believing something even if this belief is, in fact, not true. Pre-Copernican astronomers had reasons to believe the sun orbited the earth, we can assume – they were not irrational fools – but nonetheless this belief was false. So if a justified belief is one for which there is a reason, this is compatible with its being a false belief. The important interim conclusion, then, is that a belief can be false – that is, untrue, incorrect – without being irrational. Someone can do their best by the lights of current knowledge and evidence and yet end up with a false belief.

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