Hypocrisy and the Nature of Belief



We know that someone is a hypocrite when he acts inconsistently with his purported beliefs. Understanding how we know it is an essential aspect of understanding the nature of belief. We can recognize the phenomenon when beliefs are ‘inscribed’ in the brain, there is a disposition to maintain consistency among the propositions represented by the ‘inscriptions’, and the inscriptions and the disposition give rise to derivative disinclinations. Since the disinclinations ought to prevent certain actions, we notice the conflict between the beliefs hypocrites affirm and the actions they perform. ‘Inconsistency’ is a short-hand description for the conflict. Derivative disinclinations differ from dispositions in several ways and objections to the latter are not transferable to the former. The account not only explains how we can recognize hypocrisy but is also compatible with most truisms about the nature of belief. Where it is not, the truisms can be explained away as understandable errors.