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date: 25 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the epistemic conditions of freedom, arguing that even on a relatively thin conception of freedom, misbelief can make us seriously unfree in several ways. Freedom-undermining false beliefs include (1) beliefs about what one is doing, (2) false beliefs about the circumstances in which one is acting, (3) beliefs about the effective means for achieving one’s ends, (4) beliefs about the range of options open to one, and (5) shared beliefs that impair collective freedom. It follows that anyone who is committed to leading a life of integrity, self-direction, and self-knowledge ought to be much more concerned about the problem of misbelief than people generally and moral theorists typically are. For cognitively flawed but belief-driven creatures like us, who get most of our beliefs second-hand through the "testimony" of others, such concern is mandatory, both morally and prudentially.

Keywords: freedom, misbeliefs, false beliefs, unfree, normal cognitive biases, epistemic conditions of freedom

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