more from Robert Nozick

Single Idea 22666

[catalogued under 18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 5. Rationality / a. Rationality]

Full Idea

If a mother is presented with convincing evidence that her son has committed a grave crime, but were she to believe it that would make her life thereafter miserable, is it rational for her to believe her son is guilty?

Gist of Idea

Is it rational to believe a truth which leads to permanent misery?


Robert Nozick (The Nature of Rationality [1993], p.69)

Book Reference

Nozick,Robert: 'The Nature of Rationality' [Princeton 1995], p.69

A Reaction

I assume there is a conflict of rationalities, because there are conflicting ends. Presumably most mothers love the truth, but most of us also aim for happy lives. It is perfectly rational to avoid discovering a horrible family truth.