Empiricism, metaphysics, and voluntarism

Synthese 178 (1):19-26 (2011)
This paper makes three points: First, empiricism as a stance is problematic unless criteria for evaluating the stance are provided. Second, Van Fraassen conceives of the empiricist stance as receiving its content, at least in part, from the rejection of metaphysics. But the rejection of metaphysics seems to presuppose for its justification the very empiricist doctrine Van Fraassen intends to replace with the empiricist stance. Third, while I agree with Van Fraassen’s endorsement of voluntarism, I raise doubts about the possibility of defending voluntarism without engaging in the kind of metaphysics Van Fraassen rejects.
Keywords Empiricism  Doxastic attitudes  Metaphysics  Stance  Voluntarism
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