Rob, basically I agree with your argument, but sometimes differences over beliefs depend on the ways we express them in language. For example, you say

“Let’s not forget the neo-liberals either, who would do away with gender completely in order to prevent the possibility of anyone being offended by a he/she label, despite their clear-cut genitals.”

In saying that you seem to be expressing a belief that gender is determined by genitalia. Other people define gender differently, in more subtle ways. That doesn’t mean they are trying to “do away with gender completely.” Rather, they are trying to find ways of describing gender more precisely according to the ways different people experience it— words and phrases that allow for expressing a model of gender that is not simply male or female. Sometimes the truth value of beliefs is a matter of approximation, not absolutely true or false in a binary way.

In other cases beliefs that may not be verifiably “true” can still be powerful motivators for actions that most people would describe as socially valuable. For instance, I acknowledge that beliefs in immortality and in a personal God are positive motivators for many people, although I don’t hold such beliefs myself.

So I try to ask myself not just whether my own and others’ beliefs are “true” or not, but whether they are true enough to be useful motivators for me and them to engage in helpful, not harmful actions in the context of the human and non-human environments in which we are all enmeshed.

Studies language, cognition, and humans as social animals. Also does wordworking and sells no-cost insurance for lucky accidents.