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An Individual’s Belief is a Private Matter Essay


In Clifford’s article “The Ethics of Belief”, the author argues that individuals’ beliefs are not private matters. The author illustrates this argument using a set of two stories that involve religious views and ship voyage into the sea. The author supports his argument based on the incidents that occur in the two stories.

The author’s foundation of argument is that individuals’ beliefs can affect a large population in a negative way. The author, therefore, states that an individual’s belief is not a private issue. However, this is not the case as various individuals have different beliefs and opinions. The belief of an individual, therefore, should be treated as a private matter.

The author’s view on the issue of an individual’s belief is correct to some extent. In certain instances, individuals’ beliefs may result in a great loss in a large population. This is evident in the story encompassing the ship owner. The ship owner disregarded beliefs of individuals who lacked confidence in the ship.

Eventually, he allowed the ship to carry people who ended up drowning in the sea. The author’s decision, therefore, can be termed as positive move. However, the author’s view can also be disregarded in the situation in which the ship would not have capsized. This implies that people should not emphasize on the beliefs of individuals because they can hinder the achievement of certain goals. In the story of the ship, had the ship not capsized, the owner would have achieved his aims. The incident, therefore, can be treated as a mere accident.

This is because the ship, in many occasions, had survived critical conditions in the sea. Furthermore, people have different potentials in life. In academics, for instance, many students consider mathematics as difficult. However, some students still manage to perform well in this subject. In cases where all people embrace the idea that mathematics is difficult, no student performs well in this subject. Individual belief, therefore, is a private matter. Besides, it does not have to be the right thing as the society would expect.

Individuals’ beliefs are founded on personal issues that do not relate to the interest of the public. In addition, the issue of considering individuals’ beliefs as not private can lead to discord and injustice. This is illustrated in Clifford’s story that encompasses the island’s dwellers.

The island dwellers were deceived that religion was disrupting order in their society. Those against religion claimed that it was inculcating negative attitude in their children. This saw the development and proliferation of negative influence among the people. This led to a rebellion against that religion.

Eventually, the allegations turned out not to be true. The religion in the island seemed to have enemies. In their bid to bring it down, the enemies decided to spread negative ideas in the area. In the end, they managed to put people against it through their beliefs. This led to discord and injustice to the region. It was later established that the claims were false. This illustrates that individuals’ beliefs are founded on personal interests. In addition, the interests of people are not similar.

In conclusion, Clifford’s argument that individuals’ beliefs are not private is not justified. This is because the abilities and interests of individuals are different. Treating an individual’s interest as a public matter, therefore, can result into negative effects.

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IvyPanda. (2018, December 18). An Individual’s Belief is a Private Matter. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/an-individuals-belief-is-a-private-matter/

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"An Individual’s Belief is a Private Matter." IvyPanda, 18 Dec. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/an-individuals-belief-is-a-private-matter/.

1. IvyPanda. "An Individual’s Belief is a Private Matter." December 18, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/an-individuals-belief-is-a-private-matter/.


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IvyPanda. "An Individual’s Belief is a Private Matter." December 18, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/an-individuals-belief-is-a-private-matter/.

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IvyPanda. 2018. "An Individual’s Belief is a Private Matter." December 18, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/an-individuals-belief-is-a-private-matter/.

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IvyPanda. (2018) 'An Individual’s Belief is a Private Matter'. 18 December.

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