Against a descriptive vindication of doxastic voluntarism

Synthese 194 (8):2721-2744 (2017)

Abstract
In this paper, I examine whether doxastic voluntarism should be taken seriously within normative doxastic ethics. First, I show that currently the psychological evidence does not positively support doxastic voluntarism, even if I accept recent conclusions by Matthias Steup that the relevant evidence does not decisively undermine voluntarism either. Thus, it would seem that normative doxastic ethics could not justifiedly appeal directly to voluntarist assumptions. Second, I attempt to bring out how doxastic voluntarists may nevertheless hope to stir methodological worries within normative doxastic ethics, should they demonstrate that our typical practices of deontically evaluating doxastic states crucially rely on voluntarist assumptions. I also argue that some of the key arguments thought positively to support voluntarism as a psychological thesis may be put to better effect in the context of this kind of descriptive vindication. However, a closer examination reveals that nothing obviously suggests that voluntarism provides a better regimentation of our ascription practices as compared to rival theses concerning human powers of doxastic control
Keywords Alston, W.  Clifford, W.K.  Doxastic blameworthiness   Doxastic control  Doxastic voluntarism  Steup, M
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0768-3
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References found in this work BETA

Intentionality.John Searle - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - Dover Publications.
Epistemic Justification.William Alston - 1989 - Cornell University Press.

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