The rightness or wrongness of an action is not adjustable, but remains for forever put. As Clifford notes, once an action has been committed, then the status of it being either wrong or right as well as the moral standing of the one who commits the action remains despite the outcome of the action (1). This can further be explained by the proposition that the rightness or wrongness of an action can only be judged on the basis of the belief upon which its owner based their action. In this case, if the person committing the action based their justification for the appropriateness of committing the same on facts following a thorough or well investigated process, they the action can be taken to be right, otherwise it is wrong.
Whether an action is justified or not cannot be based on the individual conviction and beliefs no matter how the owner believes they are right. I concur with this proposition by Clifford concerning the ethics of belief (2). In other words, there is a need for a fair and objective process to build on a strong basis for any allegations by an individual or group and as a basis for any action thereafter. For instance, if one woman beliefs that the reasons for her woes in her marriage are being caused by her husband’s secretary, and goes on ahead to accuse her of breaking her marriage. Then such serious allegations ought to be accompanied by very strong evidence linking the two, husband and secretary, of a secret affair. First, such allegations are not only a compromise to the reputation of the secretary, the family, and the company; they pose a risk to the very livelihood of the secretary.
The accusing wife has the responsibility in this case to produce the basis of her allegations in terms of evidence linking the two to the secret affair. Again, if the two are actually found to have a secret affair, but the basis of the allegations are not founded on solid evidence but mere suspicion, this would still not make the action of the woman accusing the secretary of snatching her husband right. If the two are found not to have a secret affair but the basis of the allegations are not founded on any solid evidence but pure speculation, they still the action of the wife would still not be right. Succinctly speaking, it is not justifiable to cling onto claims founded on insufficient evidence or even to nourish a belief by suppressing doubts and avoiding investigations.
According to Clifford, the motivation to most of the actions that we engage in is driven by the pleasure derived from them (3). This argument is a valid one and supports the very human nature of seeking what is good and beneficial to us while avoiding what is harmful to us. In this regard, one might be tempted to hold on to a belief that a certain action is justified or right even if they know that their belief is unfounded. In such cases one can be said to be deriving pleasure and a sense of power which is not actually real. In other words such actions and beliefs are wrong and sinful and go against our moral obligation as human beings. It can be argued that regardless of the outcome of a wrong action, it remains as so. This implies that even if our bad action may go unnoticed or may not necessarily result in any harm, they are not in any way justified or regarded as good. The mere sustenance of the wrong belief is wrong and unnecessary. Possession of wrong and unfounded beliefs can be regarded as maintenance of evil which has the capacity to cause harm.
In some instances, we might hold beliefs that justify our wrong actions against others. Some people might try to twist the truth in order to make it match our beliefs and, therefore, justify their evil actions. In the process, they also strive to woe others into believing in their erroneous believes and actions. This might have devastating effects on others around them. The problem is made worse when such unsupported beliefs are maintained and made permanent.
They become like a habit and are bound to form basis for future evil actions. For instance, an individual might claim that the reason why they are poor is because others have taken all that there was for them to become rich and live a decent life. On the basis of such an unfounded belief they woe other miserable individuals and form a gang of thieves who decide to terrorize the entire well-to-do neighbourhood as a way of getting back at the rich. Such a belief is baseless and unfounded and not only forms the basis for evil actions, but also brings about suffering to others in society. Alternatively, such individuals have a personal responsibility to identify realistic causes of their misery and work hard to earn a living fairy and lawfully.
Cliff recognizes that a belief is not a private matter. This implies that our lives are particularly guided by the general perception of the course of things created by the society for social purposes. As Clifford puts it, any belief of any faulty reasons possesses the potential to infect and even corrupt the system of belief in which we all depend. Any such act consequently weakens our critical faculties and our self-control (4). Nevertheless, everyone has to rely on some system of beliefs that they might never be in a position to gather the evidence for themselves. Indeed, most of the general beliefs that people hold are of this sort. This reinforces Clifford’s argument that the social fabric of belief takes the nature of a social trust. We are, therefore, in the position of believing things on the basis that they are widely believed. In the real sense, things that are widely believed may be false.
The ethics of belief can be described as considerations of how people decide on what to believe. The dilemma in this case becomes that of the question, should people first evaluate the immediate implication of whatever belief they intend to hold or should they just stick to the facts and consequently adopt it even if by so doing they pose potential harm. In my view, I concur with Clifford in claiming that it is not right to-always-believe on anything without adequate evidence for any person whatever the situation of place. In this regard, my stand is that people should always evaluate the basis of their belief as well as the potential impacts it has not only to oneself, but also to other unrelated people. People should always seek objective approaches to the different situations and conditions that confront them in life. In so doing, they are bound to avoid many of the evils that have characterized the contemporary society and make the world a better place for everyone.
My central argument is people should always evaluate the basis of their belief as well as the potential impacts it has not only to oneself, but also to other unrelated people.
Premise 1: People should always seek objective approaches to the different situations and conditions that confront them in life.
Premise 2: the basis for judgment on the wrongness and rightness of an action should be based on the morality of the belief that informed it.
It is clear from the discussion that belief is not ultimately disconnected from action. For this reason, it is clear that even if a person’s belief is fixed, they can still control their action. Again, people have a duty to believe and act in a given way even in the case that they do not believe there to be anything wrong. In other words, if the belief that forms the basis of any action was derived illegitimately and that it came to be without any good prior evidence, then the one holding it is open to moral criticism and can be considered to have failed in their duty. This is because of the proposition that action is not dethatched from the belief. In this case, if the person holds a strong belief that is not based on evidence, then such a belief is likely to blur their judgment when they try to carry out their duty of investigating facts carefully.
Christian, Rose Ann. “‘The Ethics Of Belief’ And Belief About Ethics: William Kingdon Clifford At The Metaphysical Society.”Religious Studies 48.3 (2012): 357.