To change or to to change?


By Christine Hollister

“We should cultivate a willingness to change our beliefs when confronted with evidence,” UNO professor Jerry Cederblom told a group of about 30 students who gathered to hear him speak Oct. 2.

Cederblom, a professor in the philosophy department, lectured “On Changing Beliefs” as part of the 2002-03 Philosophy Colloquia Series.

During his presentation, he discussed the “Heretical Doubts of a Critical Reasoner.” As a student and teacher of critical reasoning, Cederblom discussed the dilemma of willingness to change beliefs vs. steadfastness of belief.

Cederblom is chairman of the Goodrich Scholarship Program and teaches courses in critical reasoning, logic, epistemology, history of philosophy and moral and political philosophy. He teaches autobiographical writing to Goodrich program students and is a guest lecturer at many schools across the country.

For the colloquium, Cederblom first gave a brief history of the critical reasoning movement, explaining that the notion of “letting all sides be heard” began in the early ’80s. He began his argument by looking through the eyes of a critical reasoner.

There was an opportunity for discussion, and then Cederblom took the opposite position in support of steadfastness of belief, saying that this steadfastness leads to a more substantial sense of self.

“Knowing what you stand for — your set of beliefs — is an important sense of self,” Cederblom said.

Cederblom concluded there must be a mix of the two and that the willingness change a particular belief also correlates with the type of belief it is — that some are much easier to change than others.

He explained that when faced with changing a core belief in his life he was “feeling like I was jumping off a cliff into nothingness.”

Cederblom admitted although he still is a supporter of critical reasoning, he wrote the paper to partly address the small doubts he had in his position and to better see both sides of the issue.

A participant suggested a compromise in that we “be steadfast in our willingness to be open-minded” and the lecture was opened for discussion.

Cederblom earned his BA in philosophy form Whitman College in 1967 and his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School in 1972. In 1991, he received the UNO Excellence in Teaching award.

The 2002-03 Philosophy Colloquia continues Nov. 13 when John Beaudoin presents his topic, “Miracles.”


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