Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4465-0550

Date of Award

12-16-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Neil Van Leeuwen

Second Advisor

Andrew Altman

Abstract

Despite being the most cognitively advanced animal, adult humans remain remarkably prone to defending absurd and false assertions. For instance, many adults can drive cars, calculate an appropriate tip at a restaurant, and execute cognitively complex tasks, yet still endorse Birtherism, maintain that Iraq had WMDs all along, or contend that Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration was the most widely-attended. Many of these strange commitments are the results of distorted reasoning and are identified in belief polarization literature. Psychologists and philosophers have written extensively about what mental processes/es might play a role in forming these strange commitments. I intend to show that participants' utterances or responses do not always reveal their beliefs. Non-belief attitudes also motivate utterances, and I propose a non-doxastic account of attitude polarization. I suggest that attitude polarization in politics could result from an attitude I call political acceptance, which is distinct from a belief in its functional profile.

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