Thus a rational process of determining whether a belief is irrational is nothing other than a process of determining where it stands with regard to one possible ground of respect. And note that I say 'rational process'; a mere vague feeling that it is so, or an inability to see how it is true are not rational processes for determining whether anything is irrational. Without actually identifying such a process, one that can withstand scrutiny, dragging irrationality into the mix is simply question-begging.
I've also noticed an odd tendency to try to enlist preference into the argument; this is found in Blackburn's argument, where "We would prefer them to change their minds" is given as a reason for saying that we cannot respect them for believing X in a sense stronger than 'minimal tolerance'. This, of course, is pure non sequitur. I would prefer my colleagues to change their minds about the advisability of teaching the rule of Addition as the disjunction introduction rule. This has no relevance whatsoever to whether I can respect their beliefs about that advisability; the fact that I would rather that someone change their mind about X does not imply in any way that I can only give minimal tolerance to X. Thinking that the one is relevant to the other is rather odd.
Richard has an interesting argument, one that doesn't involve confusions, that I want to say something about:
I'm intrigued by Brandon's suggestion that false belief contents may warrant respect "as beautiful, ingenious, or such". Such aesthetic values might ground respect for a fictional story or a mental state like imagining, which does not aim at truth. But belief aims at truth. So I do not think that these values can make the contents in question respectable as beliefs.
I think that this might be a reasonable argument if belief aims at truth. But while the mind may aim at truth, belief doesn't aim at truth. Indeed, it has no way of doing so; there are no means or mechanisms whereby it could, unless we assume that God has simply give believing that sort of teleology. I may know something by recognizing that it is true, but it makes no sense to say that I believe something because I think it true; thinking something true is nothing other than believing it. So what is the aim of thinking something true? I think there are only two possibilities: inquiry and practice. (Actually, since inquiry can be treated as a particularly important practice, we can treat it as one possibility if we choose.) These are the things belief aims at; its purpose is, given the fact that we need a way to inquire and act in the world, and both would be extraordinarily difficult without belief, to facilitate acting the world. (Of course, the inquiry of which the belief is a part may aim at truth.) And in both cases there is nothing that prevents false beliefs from contributing to the aim, even if, as we would tend to assume, they do not generally do so as well as true beliefs.
Directory to the Discussion
This was getting a little unwieldy in its original place, so I'm starting it again here. I'll add to it if there are any more. I have put asterisks beside the ones that I personally think are most worth reading, although it must be understood that this is comparative; it doesn't imply that the ones I don't mark aren't worth reading.
Regardant les nuages *
Mixing Memory *
A brood comb
Minds and Brains
Philosophy, et cetera *
Mixing Memory (II)
Faith in Honest Doubt
Mormon Metaphysics (II)
Free Thinking Joy