Descartes and the Question of Direct Doxastic Voluntarism

Abstract
In this paper, I clarify Descartes’s account of belief, in general, and of judgment, in particular. Then, drawing upon this clarification, I explain the type of direct doxastic voluntarism that he endorses. In particular, I attempt to demonstrate two claims. First, I argue that there is strong textual evidence that, on Descartes’s account, people have the ability to suspend, or to withhold, judgment directly by an act will. Second, I argue that there is weak and inconclusive textual evidence that, on his account, people have the ability to form a judgment directly by an act will. I conclude by suggestion that understanding the position Descartes actually endorses (which I call ‘negative direct doxastic voluntarism’) has implications, more broadly, for contemporary participants in the doxastic voluntarism debate.
Keywords Descartes  belief  will
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DOI 10.5840/jpr_2010_4
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