Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Against Intellectualism about Belief (Prefaced by a Celebration of Academic Articles in General)

I have finally received the final published PDF of my article "The Pragmatic Metaphysics of Belief". What a pleasure and relief. I poured so much time into that paper! I started presenting versions of it to academic audiences in 2015, including at two APAs and in colloquium talks or mini-conferences at nine different academic departments on three continents. It has been rewritten top to bottom several times and tweaked between, through probably about 100 different versions over six years.

Now there it is, the last chapter in The Fragmented Mind from Oxford University Press. How many people, I wonder, will read it?

I suspect that people outside of academia rarely understand how much work goes into research articles that relatively few people will read. In a way, it's a beautiful thing. There is so much energy, thought, and care in academic research! Every article, even the ones you might be inclined to dismiss as wrong-headed and foolish, is the long labor of someone who has excelled over many years of specialized education, usually through the PhD and beyond, dedicating their enormous talents to the issues discussed. Every article is a master's careful craftwork, an intricate machine into which a skilled specialist has poured their academic passion, usually for years. (Well, maybe not every article.)

This is why I loathe the casual dismissal of others' work, as well as the false and cynical view that far too much "junk" is published in academic journals these days.

Every year I publish a few articles, so in a sense this is just one more in a series. Maybe I'm inspired to these thoughts because this one has gone through more versions than average and taken longer than average.


This newest article is about what it is to believe. I set up a debate between "intellectualist" and "pragmatic" approaches to belief, and I argue in favor of the latter.

According to intellectualist approaches to belief, sincere endorsement of a statement is approximately sufficient for believing that statement. If you feel sincere when you say, "Women and men are intellectually equal" or "My children's happiness is far more important than their grades at school", then you believe those things, regardless of how you generally live your life.

According to pragmatic approaches to belief, what you believe isn't about what you are sincerely disposed to say. It's about how you live your life. If you say "women and men are intellectually equal" but you don't act and react accordingly -- if you tend implicitly to treat women as less intelligent, if you're readier to ascribe academic brilliance to a man, etc. -- then you don't really or fully have the belief you might think you have. If you say "my children's happiness is more important than their grades" but your day-to-day interactions with them display much more concern about their academic success than their mental health, then you don't really or fully have that belief.

Now that I've set things up this way, I hope you can already start to see why why a pragmatic approach is preferable, even if we often implicitly take the intellectualist approach for granted. But if you need some additional arguments, here are three:

(1.) The pragmatic approach better expresses our values. We care about what people believe because we care not just about what they sincerely say but even more importantly how they act in the world. The pragmatic approach thus accurately reflects what matters to us in belief ascription.

(2.) The pragmatic approach keeps philosophers' disciplinary focus in the right place. "Belief" plays a central role in philosophy of mind, epistemology, philosophy of action, philosophy of language, and philosophy of religion. If we make belief primarily about intellectual endorsements, then discussion of belief in these subfields is primarily about people's patterns of intellectual endorsement. If belief is instead about how you act and react generally, then our discipline, in continuing to use the term "belief" in central ways, keeps its focus on what is important.

(3.) The pragmatic approach discourages noxiously comfortable self-assessments by forcing us, when we think about what our beliefs are, to examine our behavior and implicit assumptions. We don't get to casually and comfortably say "oh, yes, of course I believe women and men are intellectually equal and that my children's happiness is more important than their grades", patting ourselves on the back for these admirable attitudes. Instead, if we really want to honestly say we genuinely believe these things, we will need to take a look at our general comportment toward the world, which might not be as handsome and consistent as we hope.

If you're curious to read more, the final manuscript version is here, or you can email me for the final PDF version, or you can buy the whole anthology when it finally appears in print in a week or two (or six?).


Anonymous said...

thanks for the link. I'm all for pragmatist/enactive approaches that don't project intellectualism/analytic-philo into places where they don't exist but I do wonder if this take
loses sight of other (often after the fact) uses of belief-terms/phrases, I might just being doing what I need to (in terms of justifications, manners, showing I can play a language game to the demands of a setting like a seminar) to meet some present need/desire by putting things in the form of expressions we associate with stating beliefs, all of which I likely do

Chris McVey said...

This reminds me of an ongoing debate I have had with my family. My contention for years has been that far fewer people actually believe in god (at least the Christian god) than proclaim to, based primarily on the observation that so few actually act in ways that are consistent with the belief that there exists a god who will punish them for all eternity if they fail to follow relatively simple rules. Sure, we could say that many think they will be able to repent later, or that they will be forgiven their sins, or what have you, but even then, I think most people don't even think about it to this level, at least not on a day to day basis. Rather, they seem to act in the way a person would who doesn't REALLY believe the teachings of their particular religion. There are none of the traditional emotions (worry, fear, guilt, etc.) that I would think would come along with the actions of someone who genuinely believes that what they are doing runs the risk of eternal damnation, or even just divine disapproval.

A perhaps more compelling argument to me is that many of these people DO genuinely believe in god, but that people are weak willed, imperfect, what have you. I am curious how your view would make sense of all this. For the record, I tend to agree with you! Just curious how you would defend the view in situations where people's actions seem to betray the lack of a belief that those people would VERY, VERY adamantly argue they in fact possess.

Matti Meikäläinen said...

I must confess to having a meager grasp of psychology. However, it seems to me that there are many people who think they hold pragmatic beliefs. That is, they think they walk the talk. However, they fail to examine their behavior and assumptions honestly. Upon searching inquiry or even heated debate from others they spin or justify their specific actions that appear contrary to their beliefs. Are these people a version of the “intellectualists” on belief or something else?

Howard B said...

Dear Eric:

Your essay warrants further study. I have a belief I will read it.
One preliminary point: my actions tell my beliefs, but still my beliefs are representations in some kind of mind or its stand-in?
Some people like William James, who was a pragmatist, perhaps the pragmatist, thought of speech and thought as a kind of behavior.
He might push back against your argument in unguessable ways

Thank you.

This is very intriguing

howard said...

You would dismiss self report surveys except those that report behavior then?

Arnold said...

Is 'self reporting' an introduction to living here now...
...that every second is new...

Gumby Bush said...

Interesting. Largely compelling, but I'm left wondering whether there would be an important distinction between your view and a pluralist account of belief, on which it is rarely unambiguously true that someone believes anything, but that all such ascriptions are context-sensitive or pick out varieties of belief (perhaps based on what kind of predictive-explanatory tasks are at stake). Both would say that Daniel is, at least in certain respects or contexts, not helpfully summarized as believing p or not-p. The pluralist, however, does not see ordinary language testimonials about what people believe as carrying philosophical asterisks.

The biggest difference I see is that, where you say, "A concept this important to philosophical thinking should be reserved for the most important thing in the vicinity that can plausibly answer to it, unless there is some exceptional reason to do otherwise," the pluralist about belief claims that our concepts should fit ordinary linguistic use as closely as possible, unless there is some exceptional reason to do otherwise.

I don't think this is quite your Objection 3, since the pluralist isn't going for just 2 kinds of belief. The pluralist may well point out that self-ascribed belief can only be counted on to predict self-ascriptional practices and perhaps (some kinds of) theoretical reasoning, and may be happy to refer to these kinds of belief as "judgments" in some contexts (for clarity, for instance).

You say, "It is a simplifying assumption in our talk of “belief” that these two roles of belief attribution—the testimonial and the predictive-explanatory—converge upon a single thing: what one believes. When that simplifying assumption breaks down, something has to give, and not all of our practices can be preserved without reinterpretation." I think the pluralist wants to contend that you are wrong on that, or at least that our reinterpretations can be a little less jarring: perhaps a Wittgensteinian "we get confused by language"-type of approach where we forget that our claims are made in particular contexts.

Anonymous said...

forgot to add this link, dmf

Philosopher Eric said...

I wonder if you consider the pragmatism versus intellectualism question regarding belief to have implications to the question of moral realism versus antirealism?

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

DMF: In the context of a seminar, the relevant dispositions might be mostly linguistic ones concerning what proposition you are willing to defend, and in that specific situation attributing Daniel the belief might be perfectly fine. My dispositional approach allows for context sensitivity of this sort. Compare calling someone "courageous" who is courageous on the battlefield but cowardly in other aspects of life. If we're in battle, just go ahead and call him courageous. That's the aspect of his profile that's relevant in context. On Mercier and Sperber: Yes, I think there's a lot to their theory, but that's somewhat orthogonal to the question of where the truth lies in the positions you argue for.

Chris: Yes, that example is one I've been thinking about for a long time (back to a paper in 2001), and it's really interesting and not totally straightforward. There are at least three moves that can be made within my approach to help make them look more like believers in God than they look the most flat-footed version of my approach. First, as you suggest, they might genuinely believe in a forgiving and tolerant god -- or at least one who will be forgiving and tolerant of them -- and so have that assumption built into the background of their laxity. Second, normative beliefs are always a little tricky in my system (like the example of Cheezos near then end of my paper), since there's room for slippage between what you think you should do and how you behave. It's possible to be describable as believing that you should do A while rarely doing A *if* enough of your other dispositions are should-A-ish -- not just your verbal dispositions but also feelings of guilt, serious planning to prevent temptations to not-A, recruiting friends to help you A, etc. That's the genuine profile of weakness. (Simply saying "I should A" without any further supporting dispositions isn't enough.) Third, our dispositions can shift from day to day or moment to moment. In church on Sunday, Antonio might be full of all the dispositions constitutive of believing in god, but then he might lapse into implicit atheism on Monday. What he really believes depends on the size of the time-slice. If you want to know *generally over time*, it's an in-between case. But if you take a narrower slice, you could say that he believes today (Sunday), as he is sincerely professing.

Matti: I agree. I'd say that they think they believe by pragmatic standards, but they do not in fact believe, or not fully and determinately so.

Howard: Yes, speech is one kind of behavior, and an important one. But not by itself sufficient for belief. I am not so sure about the representational realism, though. On self-report surveys, it depends on whether it's the kind of belief that we tend to get right about ourselves, as an empirical matter, and also what aspects of the person's dispositional profile you're most interested in.

Gumby Bush: I'm not averse to the pluralist perspective that you describe. But here's the question. If there are plural and context-sensitive ways of thinking about belief, as I think there are, what is it that determines which of the ways we ought to favor? Here I think we ought typically to look toward pragmatic criteria. I'm more willing to stretch ordinary language than a Wittgensteinian pluralist, but I do treat it as a constraint here, or at least a desideratum, that usage not do violence to ordinary language. The term is somewhat open-textured in ordinary language, and we can move more toward one or another way of filling in that texture.

Phil E: I'm inclined to think it's orthogonal, though I can imagine one might draw a connection with a few intermediate premises.

Howie said...

This is quite interesting: but if belief is reflected in our behavior then much psychology, such as behaviorist or Kurt Lewin for instance, have to be wrong.
Aren't you saying in effect that our beliefs cause our behavior, unless you make qualifications which is in a strange way solopistic almost like Freud saying that we behave according to our wishes.
You might be able to work out a workable account, but why is your account preferable to Skinner's or Lewin's or Freud's et aal?

Philosopher Eric said...

It’s interesting to me professor that you don’t see anything more than perhaps various intermediate connections between your preferred stance on belief and the question of moral realism. It could be that I’ve mixed up some technical terms.

One thing that does seem relevant in any case is the hilarious “Cheeseburger ethics” chapter in your “Theory of Jerks…” book. Your ridiculously honest ethicist earnestly says that eating mammal meat is wrong, though given your stance on belief she wouldn’t actually “believe” this to be the case since she eats mammal meat herself. Furthermore the polling research that you’ve done suggests that many of your colleagues in ethics actually fall in her category, though without being nearly as honest about it since they’re human rather than hypothetical.

It would seem that if your stance regarding the epistemology of belief were widely practiced, then this would put extra heat on many ethicists. Either some should be embarrassed for professing things that they don’t believe given their converse behavior (“Disclaimer class: I don’t actually believe what I’m about to tell you…”), or this could influence some to behave more accordingly, or some could change their stance on certain personally problematic issues to avoid hypocrisy. So I guess this suggests headwinds against your favored stance on belief. Many of my most cherished positions face similar structural impediments.

I think your son, seven at the time, had the best line of the chapter: “The kids who always talk about being fair and sharing, mostly just want you to be fair to them and share with them.” I doubt that even I grasped this aspect of our nature at such a tender age. I hope that the evolved social tool of morality hasn’t yet robbed him of it. (And per Twitter, congrats on him starting a 5 year cog sci PhD program in France! Wow!)

Gumby Bush said...

"If there are plural and context-sensitive ways of thinking about belief, as I think there are, what is it that determines which of the ways we ought to favor?"

I'm not sure I'm following. I want to say "the context," (or, as I parenthetically noted before, the predictive-explanatory tasks at stake) but that seems obvious. As Phil E notes and as you grant to DMF, when we are participating in seminars on ethical theory we aren't usually concerned with predicting our interlocutors' dining behaviors but, rather, their argumentative behaviors. Are you supposing there might be relatively unclear cases where we might not be sure what predictive-explanatory tasks are at stake? There I suppose I'd agree with preferring a more demanding interpretation. "Virtue signaling" might be this sort of case, where the practice, at least in its more vicious forms, hinges on this ambiguity. In general, though, I agree that we shouldn't praise someone for (most) beliefs which don't have the right sort of evidences in behavior, and that those behaviors are more important to belief ascription than intellectualism allows.

Arnold said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arnold said...

Can poetry support metaphysical pragmatics...

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the continuing comments, folks!

Howie: I'm not sure I'm seeing exactly the contrast you have in mind. My view is closer to behaviorism than most competing accounts of belief these days, though of course it's not strict behaviorism.

Phil E: Ah, by "moral realism" I thought you meant whether there are moral facts that are (in some appropriate sense) independent of our opinions about those facts. I completely agree that there's a close connection between my work on belief and my work on the disconnection between verbally expressed moral opinions and real-world moral choice, along roughly the lines you say.

Gumby: Right, I'm thinking less about seminars as the default case but rather more ordinary espousals and choices -- such as in my example about believing that your children's happiness is more important than their academic success. I think people often do say things like that, and most would agree with that if explicitly asked, even though for some of us our day-to-day reactions might tell a more mixed story. That's the kind of case and context I'm thinking of as central.

Arnold: Yes to poetry! :-)

Philosopher Eric said...

Sounds good professor. And I’ll come clean on why I asked your thoughts about any connection between moral realism and your favored stance on belief. I’ve been thinking for some time that you might be overly “moral realist”, and so in my mind fashioned that your pragmatic stance on belief might help justify that position… as in maybe if people don’t actually “believe” a given position that they say they do, then the bar for moral realism would be lower? But then I’m not sure the logic holds. If parenting practices suggest that many people don’t “believe” that their child’s happiness is more important to them than their grades, that doesn’t seem to help (or hurt) the case for moral realism. Furthermore I see from the video that you recently did with Dan Norton, that like me you consider morality as an evolved tool which helps a highly social creature like the human function in its advanced societies. So it could be that in this sense at least, I’m a moral realist. Interesting!

Back to the topic of belief, I get the sense that behind the scenes much of the energy inciting your project has come from a frustration with people who are permitted to say that they “believe” all sorts of things which conflict with their actual behavior. Theoretically here you’d like to technically deny them the ability to engage in such “virtue signaling” (to use the term that Gumby Bush brought up).

Though that’s understandable (and I do like to give people the ability to define terms however they like so I can potentially assess their ideas from the right stance), relatively ordinary terms seem more difficult to sensibly move away from standard usage. Consider a more problematic case for your proposal. Do severely obese people who choose not to exercise and/or moderate their calories, not “believe” that such behavior should tend to help them have longer and more happy lives? I’d like to say that most do have such a belief, and even given their converse behavior. So why would anyone not do what they think should tend to give them longer and better lives in the end? That’s a question for the field of psychology to answer. Unfortunately given its extreme softness, no such consensus exists. Consider my own account:

I view all sentient beings as self interested products of their circumstances that are consciously driven by instant gratification. Regarding future prospects however I see two dynamics which effectively moderate this feature, or “hope” and “worry”. Hope feels good instantly, so a subject may tolerate negative dynamics given the greater offset of instantly rewarding perceptions for the future. Worry feels bad instantly, so to relieve this a subject may do things that it doesn’t otherwise want to in order to potentially moderate or end such worrisome prospects. So I’m saying that severely obese people may in general suffer from deficits in hope/worry, and this should tend to induce compounding spirals. I consider the reward of hope and punishment of worry to apply to general future perceptions.

If this account does make sense, a related question would be why distinguished psychologists continually fail to come to such an agreement and so harden up their troubled field? It could be that the social tool of morality tends to punish such hedonistic proposals. Notice that physics, biology, and even economics are permitted to be explored amorally. Shouldn’t the same be the case for psychology? It could be that psychology hits too close to home and so the social tool of morality impedes us — as in “Unlike the altruistic, only bad people say that happiness is all that consciously motivates us in the end”. So I consider psychology to be in a tough spot that could potentially be remedied by philosophy, that is if it weren’t in an equally tough spot.

Philosopher Eric said...

But then again, an extremely obese person who does believe that exercise and calorie restriction should tend to make them healthier and happier, should also tend to be hopeful in that regard and so get on that road given this feel good incentive. So maybe saying that many of them “don’t believe”, even from your pragmatic sense of the idea, is effective?

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for these further thoughts, Phil E. You write:

"Do severely obese people who choose not to exercise and/or moderate their calories, not “believe” that such behavior should tend to help them have longer and more happy lives? I’d like to say that most do have such a belief, and even given their converse behavior. So why would anyone not do what they think should tend to give them longer and better lives in the end?"

First, some severely overweight people have health or metabolism issues that are effectively out of their control, which I think is good to acknowledge, rather than falling into generalizations. That said, I have a discussion of a case similar to this near the end of the article. My answer is that if the person makes serious plans to eat better, feels guilty about not eating better, focuses on buying healthy foods, etc., then they do have much or even most of the behavioral, phenomenal, and cognitive dispositions relevant to the belief. That contrasts with a case where the person says "I should eat better" but makes no plans to change, doesn't feel guilty, laughs at her kale-eating friends, etc. On your general theory: I confess that I'm not much attracted to such simple hedonistic views, not for moral reasons but rather because it seems psychologically and biologically plausible that our behavior arises from a very complicated set of mechanisms rather than a single hedonic calculus.

Gumby Bush said...

So, I ran a simplified version of this past my family when my dad mentioned he should walk more, but admitted he wasn't doing anything to get himself to do so, nor feeling any guilt about it.

What do you do with cases where the motivation one might expect is plausibly weak enough that other motives might outweigh them?

Consider a middle aged, relatively healthy person who says they should walk more, but doesn't make any effort to increase how much they walk, nor feels any guilt about failing to walk more. Suppose that, when pressed on this inconsistency, they note that, while they think they should walk more, they feel their energy is even better spent improving, say, their relationships with family or their work skills.

On the one hand, we might say that such a person doesn't really believe they should walk more in their actual circumstances--they think it would be good if they walked more, but that the costs of making that happen outweigh the benefits due to opportunity costs. Is there something left over for their belief that they should walk more to be?

Philosopher Eric said...

Though you did discuss how much you’ve put into this paper over several years, for some reason I assumed that I understood without reading it. My mistake. Now that I have gone through it in full however there are some things that I’d like you to think about.

Importantly I have come to consider your pragmatic stance on belief to be generally effective. Above I belatedly began to realize that in the face of instantaneous temptations versus hopes and worries about future welfare, a pragmatic stance on belief does seem effective while an intellectual stance does not. For example sometimes a person should more strongly suspect that exercise and fewer calories will tend make them happier in general. Given such convictions, instant hope and worry should tend to help them get past momentary rewards with detrimental future implications. Other times a person’s suspicions about what’s best should feel less certain and so current temptations may override prospects for the future.

In your post that calls for abstract submissions on belief I rhetorically questioned the prospect of effectively defining this term without a psychological model to base it upon. But from my own model your account does seem to succeed anyway. So as you work through the abstract that I’m planning to write, you may also be interested in various psychological dynamics which help found your pragmatic stance on belief.

Next is your current assertion that “…it seems psychologically and biologically plausible that our behavior arises from a very complicated set of mechanisms rather than a single hedonic calculus.” Yes the human does seem both psychologically and biologically complex. But this shouldn’t mandate that effective epistemic reductions of our nature can’t also be achieved. From the premise that we evolved from simpler organisms, surely there are certain effective psychological reductions to make which apply given our more simple origins.

As I see it the most fundamental psychological reduction to be made is that a value dynamic exists which drives the phenomenal component of all sentient creatures. Apparently this is somewhat like the electricity which drives our computers, or a power source. In the end accounts which lack such parsimony should be cut down by Occam’s razor, that is unless any of them are able to effectively explain more than my own model is able to.

Effective general reductions mark the difference between harder forms of science like physics and softer forms like psychology. Observe that economics is a science that has built up a vast collection of models addressing our behavior, and each of them is founded upon the premise of hedonism. Why has economics been able to develop and accept successful hedonistic models while psychology has not? I suspect because the field of economics is far enough from the center of our nature to not overtly challenge the social tool of morality. Essentially for psychology a hedonistic premise should naturally present various repugnant implications that conflict with common moral notions, and even if effective, given how central it happens to be. Conversely economic models don’t generally seem so threatening under that premise since they aren’t quite as personal to us.

In any case once the field of psychology is able to develop effective general models regarding our nature, hedonistic or not, we should be able to use them to help us better lead our individual lives as well as structure our various societies. That’s the final point which drives my passions here. I’d like us to understand ourselves so that we might use these understandings to intelligently improve ourselves.

Philosopher Eric said...

Furthermore let me mention that my favorite molecular biologist has a book coming out on the 28th about the life and historical significance of 14th century Friar, William of Ockham. For the time being I’ve been satisfying myself with interviews like this one and reviews like this one, suggesting that progress in science is quite depend upon the most frugal reductions that we can manage that have effective explanatory power.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the continuing discussion, folks!

Gumby: Right! There are two main options for the dispositionalist here. The first is to specify the belief more precisely, as you suggest. They don't believe that a person in their situation should walk more, even though they also believe that it would be good for them to walk more if the situation were different. The second is to appeal to manifestation-blockers. A fragile vase won't break when dropped IF it is wrapped in bubble wrap, but that doesn't mean the vase isn't fragile. It's disposition to break is masked or blocked by the bubble-wrap. Similarly, the person's disposition to walk is masked or blocked by their circumstances.

Phil E: Thanks for the kind words! The dispute about simple reductive models versus complex models is a core issue in philosophy of science around which there is reasonable disagreement. Of course there are also many examples where science has been led astray by oversimplicity, e.g., genetic reductionism leading us to ignore epigenetic factors. I generally lean toward the anti-reductionist, world-is-complex school by both training and disposition. Simplicity is useful and we need to simplify to make any sense of our massively complex world; but we should always remain aware of the gulf between our simplifications and the much more complex reality.

Philosopher Eric said...

Actually we’re in complete agreement on that professor. I’m the last person who’d suggest that ontological reality shouldn’t be ridiculously complex and beyond us. My proclamations have merely been epistemic.

In order to truly disagree with me on this you’d need to assert something like “We’ve been able to develop effective models in harder sciences like physics, because they’re ultimately pretty simple when compared against the complexities found in psychology, sociology, and other soft sciences”. If the human has simply been too complex for us to grasp, observe that our continued ignorance here renders us blameless. How convenient! And note that a “sample size of one” dynamic seems to exist. Here we’re proposing that only things which aren’t human happen to be simple enough for science to effectively model, but not things that are human?

Instead I’d suggest that the aspect of reality that we should naturally have greater biases about, remains problematic in science today specifically given those biases. To help science navigate the challenges of personal exploration I suspect that we’ll need various effective principles of metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology.

Once our soft sciences begin hardening up (not to mention philosophy (or “meta science” for those philosophers who can’t stand the thought of their field providing various agreed upon answers)), people should look back at the state of psychology today and consider it about like physics was before the rise of Newton.

It sounds to me like the professor’s pragmatic stance on belief characterizes your father’s position on exercise quite well — your father doesn’t seem to believe that this would make his life much better. But let’s say that he supported himself as a world class marathoner. Here belief should be critical to his function. Strong belief that he might indeed attain his dreams through running should feel quite good to him in terms of hope. Furthermore strong belief should also tend to punished him with worry when he fails to do what he thinks he should to get him where he needs to be.

I consider algorithms to drive the brain based computer, though for many creatures like us the brain creates a separate phenomenal computer that’s driven to feel as good as it can each instant. Here I’m referring to all that is sentient. This second form of computer (perhaps in the form of neuron produced electromagnetic radiation?) seems to give us effective purpose.