Journal of Philosophy 105 (7):346-370 (2008)

Matthew Chrisman
University of Edinburgh
My primary purpose in this paper is to sketch a theory of doxastic oughts that achieves a satisfying middle ground between the extremes of rejecting epistemic deontology because one thinks beliefs are not within our direct voluntary control and rejecting doxastic involuntarism because one thinks that some doxastic oughts must be true. The key will be appreciating the obvious fact that not all true oughts require direct voluntary control. I will construct my account as an attempt to surpass other accounts (especially those due to Feldman and Kornblith) in this vein. The new idea (in a telegraphic slogan) is that doxastic oughts are what Sellars called “rules of criticism,” which are logically distinct from but also interestingly connected to “rules of action.” The distinction provides a way to understand the phrase ‘ought to believe’ which is consistent with both doxastic involuntarism and epistemic deontology; the connection provides a novel way to incorporate a believer’s epistemic community into our understanding of the scope of epistemic obligations
Keywords ought  epistemic deontology  doxastic voluntarism  Alston  epistemic obligations
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ISBN(s) 0022-362X
DOI 10.5840/jphil2008105736
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