By Gilbert Harman
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I have already noted that even when one is aware of one’s reasoning, one is rarely able to tell exactly what considerations have influenced one’s conclusion (cf. chapter eleven, section 3). 1 Larry’s wife Mabel has been accused of embezzling a large sum of money 1 Here I am indebted to Keith Lehrer. See also Lehrer (1971). 31 REASONS AND REASONING from the bank in which she works as a teller. Larry loves Mabel dearly and thinks he knows her as well as anyone can know anyone else. He cannot believe that Mabel could have embezzled money.
These reasons can involve either his theory that the teacher dislikes him or his realization that he is not doing well in the course. What distinguishes these cases cannot be Albert’s thinking that certain reasons are his reasons. His views about what his reasons are can be the same in both cases. Instead, the difference seems to lie in why he believes as he does. In imagining that he believes as he does for reasons involving his realization that he is philosophically incompetent, we ascribe to his belief a different explanation from that we ascribe to it when we say that he really believes as he does for reasons involving his theory that the instructor has it in for existentialists.
Nor is the analysis to be rescued by requiring that Albert be sincere. Being asked to justify his belief might lead Albert to reassess his reasons; and that could lead him for the first time to appreciate his good reasons. He might begin to see the significance of his performance on the midterm examination, his inability to understand the lectures, and the instructor’s reputation. Having believed for some time that he would fail, he might only then come to believe this for the good reasons he then states; and only then could he be said to know that he is going to fail.