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III. Analogue of Warrant

We should note the deep analogies between will and intellect, affection and belief here. Intellect is the province of belief; will, the province of affection. Now when our cognitive faculties function properly, we won’t believe just any propositions; we will (ordinarily) believe true propositions.392392   And, of course, not just any true propositions, but ones appropriate to the circumstances. I meet you at a party; you tell me you live in Omaha; I form the belief that you live there, rather than, say, the true belief that you were born in Cleveland or that Caesar crossed the Rubicon. To put the matter in an older terminology, intellect is ordered to truth. Like intellect, however, affection also has an appropriate object—or, rather, the various affections have appropriate objects. When the sources of affection function properly, we will love what is lovable, take delight in what is delightful, and desire what is desirable. We will love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves; we will delight in his beauty and glory, and in created reflections of that beauty and glory; we will desire what is in fact good for us. Here I am assuming the unfashionable view that some individuals and some states of affairs are genuinely and objectively lovable, delightful, and desirable; others are genuinely and objectively hateful, disgusting, and undesirable; still others are none of the above. Delightfulness is not or not just the dispositional property a thing or state of affairs has of tending to produce delight in us; it is, rather, an objective property of an object or state of affairs, one that in no way depends upon human reactions to it. The beauty and delightfulness of a Mozart sonata are objective properties of (tokens of) the pattern of sounds; they aren’t just subjective reactions on the part of the listener (or the dispositional properties of being apt for the production of such subjective reactions), although of course if things are going right, there will be such a reaction. (It may be that a thing’s delightfulness depends on God’s attitude toward it, but that is a very different matter.)


Like beliefs, affections can be justified or unjustified—or, rather, I can be justified or unjustified in having a certain affection.393393   Furthermore, affection, like belief, is not within our direct control; for example, I can’t just by willing to do so, take the right attitude toward someone who has wronged or offended me. But also affection, again like belief, is to some extent within our indirect control; one can train oneself not to be so sensitive to slights, to see (and feel) them as unimportant. One can fight against pride and self-centeredness, and sometimes achieve partial success. Furthermore, affections, like beliefs, can be rational or irrational: if I react to disaster with an amused smile, or love myself above all, or disdain someone because her relatives are poorer than mine, there is lack of proper function. There can also be proper and improper function with respect to the degree of affection, just as with degree of belief. I value a silly little ditty from a cigar commercial (“Man to man with a RoiTan! Man to man with a RoiTan cigar!”) as much as Bach’s B Minor Mass: that’s a case of affective malfunction. Similarly if you value my good opinion more than God’s.

Still further, there is an analogue of warrant for affections. A belief has warrant when it is formed by cognitive faculties functioning properly in a congenial epistemic environment (both maxi and mini) according to a design plan successfully aimed at truth. An affection can have an analogous property. As we have already seen, it can be produced by faculties functioning properly or not. The environmental condition is equally obvious. On some distant planet, there could be a gas that causes human beings to react to disaster with a silly giggle or an indifferent shrug, or to become furiously angry for no reason at all. The right kind of affective environment (for us) will be one where, given our design plan, we will form the right affective responses. What about the last two conditions for warrant: (1) the faculty in question being such that it is aimed at the production of true beliefs, and (2) the design plan’s being a good one? As to the first, again, there are clear analogues. It could be that a specific form of affection is aimed, not at our valuing something that is genuinely valuable, but at something else—at the continuation of the species, or survival, or whatever. An affection (or an instance of an affection) has the analogue of warrant only if it is produced by a process that isn’t aimed at the production of affections with any of those properties, but instead at the production of affection that is appropriate to its object: valuing or loving or desiring what is valuable or lovable or desirable. The last condition for warrant is that the production of the belief be governed by a design plan that is good in the sense that there is a high objective probability that a belief formed in such a way as to satisfy the first three conditions will be true. Again, there is a clear analogue 311in the case of affection: the design plan governing the production of the affections is a good one just if, for example, it is objectively likely that a given instance of desire will be for something desirable and a given instance of hate will be of something hateful (given the satisfaction of the other three conditions).394394    Is there an analogue of the Gettier problem for affections? I leave this problem for homework, only reminding the reader that the essence of Gettier situations is the “resolution problem”: the fact that cognitive minienvironments can be misleading, even if embedded in maxienvironments apt for our style of cognitive faculties (above, pp. 158ff.).

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