Dec. 16, 2021
VCU philosophy professor receives national award for article exploring morality and rationality of beliefs
“It’s a tremendous honor to have my work selected by the American Philosophical Association for the Routledge, Taylor & Francis Prize,” said James Fritz.
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James Fritz, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy in the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been named one of two recipients of the 2021 Routledge, Taylor & Francis Prize, which is awarded by the American Philosophical Association for the two best published articles in philosophy written by contingent faculty.
“It’s a tremendous honor to have my work selected by the American Philosophical Association for the Routledge, Taylor & Francis Prize,” he said. “I'm struck by a sense of gratitude for the community that has supported both this project and my other research projects. I'm grateful for the many conversations with talented philosophers that have helped me to hone my thinking, for the encouragement and resources I've been offered by the College of Humanities and Sciences, for my fantastic colleagues in VCU's Department of Philosophy, and above all, for the constant love and support of my family.”
Fritz’s paper, “Moral Encroachment and Reasons of the Wrong Kind,” was published in the journal Philosophical Studies in October 2019.
The paper, Fritz explained, is about two kinds of questions that can be asked about beliefs: which beliefs would be morally best for a person to have, and which beliefs are rational for a person to have.
“It's tempting, at first, to think that these questions are unconnected,” he said. “The fact that it'd be morally wonderful for me to always believe the best of others, for instance, wouldn't make it rational for me to always believe the best of others. But some philosophers have recently been arguing that this tempting first thought is mistaken: they argue, instead, that there are subtle and surprising connections between the morality of belief and the rationality of belief.
“In this paper,” he said, “I make some recommendations about how to understand the connection between morality and rationality. The view that I defend helps to shed light both on highly general questions about the nature of rationality and on concrete questions about what to believe in specific cases. For instance, it helps to illuminate what precisely goes wrong when people form morally objectionable beliefs about others based solely on their membership in social groups (as in cases of racial profiling).”
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the name of the awarding organization. The American Philosophical Association awards the Routledge, Taylor & Francis Prize.
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