'Making up Your Mind' and the Activity of Reason

Philosophers' Imprint 11 (2011)
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Abstract

A venerable philosophical tradition holds that we rational creatures are distinguished by our capacity for a special sort of mental agency or self-determination: we can “make up” our minds about whether to accept a given proposition. But what sort of activity is this? Many contemporary philosophers accept a Process Theory of this activity, according to which a rational subject exercises her capacity for doxastic self-determination only on certain discrete occasions, when she goes through a process of consciously deliberating about whether P and concludes by “making a judgment”, thereby bringing about a change in what she believes. I argue that this conception of our control over our beliefs implies an unacceptable picture of the agency we exercise in judging, and of the relation of such agency to the condition of belief itself. I suggest that the beliefs of a rational creature are themselves “acts of reason”, which reflect the capacity for doxastic self-determination in their very nature, not merely in certain facts about how they can originate

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Matthew Boyle
University of Chicago

Citations of this work

Active Belief.Matthew Boyle - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 35 (S1):119-147.
Reasons Wrong and Right.Nathaniel Sharadin - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (3):371-399.
The Normativity of Belief.Conor McHugh & Daniel Whiting - 2014 - Analysis 74 (4):698-713.
What reasoning might be.Markos Valaris - 2017 - Synthese 194 (6).

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