I came across the article Alief and Belief by Tamar Szabo Gendler
from Journal of Philosophy 105:10 (2008), 634-663.

After reading it, many thoughts and ideas went through mind. I have wondered many times about the other quality in our epistemic toolkit that causes us to lean one way or the other on an issue when we might have competing authorities, reason, empiricism, etc for the same data or issue. I wonder if from a philosophical perspective, alief is that quality. I imagine that materialists might attempt to explain this in biological terms, not philosophical.

Can anyone appreciate the nuance I am referring to? An example: You have two recognized authorities (scientists) who have done their research, have successfully been published in peer-reviewed journals and they seem to support their position very well. The only problem is that given the same data they come to opposite conclusions. If you choose to accept one view over the other, why? If you can't find holes in their research or if you do, but it is based on your own biases, why do you lean one way or the other in the face of competing evidence?

I feel that many might just say it is all part of reason, but I would like to unpack that. Can we narrow it down to something other than the rational faculties that we are aware of? I believe I read a few years ago that neuroscientists realized that the brain does many more transactions a second than we are consciously aware of. I can imagine biologists using something like this to explain it. But philosophically, might we call it alief?

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I am not sure if your example is reasonable. If you have two scientists doing research in the same area, it seems unlikely that their conclusions will be opposite if their data is the same. As a scientist, I have a hard time even imagining what that situation might look like. More likely, the scientists may be speculating as to the CAUSE of the data and have differing OPINIONS. i.e. global warming - it exists - is it caused by humans dumping carbon dioxide or is it a natural cycling of climate? To answer many questions, we need to look beyond the data. It could be the motivation of the scientist or who is doing the funding?

I wonder if there is some mechanism whereby we tend towards the view that we were already leaning toward? Just as it takes massive effort to unlearn something learned incorrectly, does it take more effort to accept a rationale that goes against what we already believed?
In Climate science there are different models and ways of doing statistical analysis. Some are saying that even with different models and stat analysis, if the data is the same, the results will be nearly the same.

What about evolution between neo-darwinism and punctuated equilibrium or some other theory. The underlying data seems to be the same. The theories are different because the scientists are trying to answer different problems, maybe.

Or we could go to philosophy. At any rate, my question is how do we decide who's theory we prefer among competing and accomplished experts.

Yeah, the mechanism you are referring to is something I think the biologists or neuro-scientists may point toward.

So you may be referring to our pre-understandings and prejudices that we learned along the way and then are confronted with when we consider something in light of reason. So what if we rationalize through something and we can see that our new cognitive understanding stands in contradiction to our pre-understandings. If we choose to go with our pre-understanding over the rational view, what is that "mechanism" that let's us do that?

Did you happen to read the article on Alief and Belief?
i wasn't able to read the entire article, but i think i got the gist of it (unless its got a surprise ending)

what you and the author are calling Alief, cognitive science would (i'm not a cog sci so i'm guessing) have lots of other names and theories for (though maybe not yet much more specific than Alief). they'd probably say, "yes, we're not nearly as rational as we think we are. something else that has nothing to do with logical decision making is going on most of the time"

Jonah Lehrer wrote a book about this kind of thing, and the radio show RadioLab has touched on this subject in a few episodes. (i think in the one titled "choice") check out the show, its a fun listen and they touch on subjects where science and philosophy intersect.
Cool...thanks for the tip. I'll check it out.



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