The Powers that bind : doxastic voluntarism and epistemic obligation

In Rico Vitz & Jonathan Matheson (eds.), The Ethics of Belief: Individual and Social. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 12-33 (2014)
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In this chapter, we argue for three theses: (1) we lack the power to form beliefs at will (i.e., directly); at very least, we lack the power to form at will beliefs of the kind that proponents of doxastic voluntarism have in mind; but (2) we possess a propensity to form beliefs for non-epistemic reasons; and (3) these propensities—once we come to know we have them—entail that we have obligations similar to those we would have were doxastic voluntarism true. Specifically, we will argue that we have obligations to avoid triggering these propensities to form beliefs that are unwarranted or even immoral.

Author Profiles

Neil Levy
Macquarie University
Eric Mandelbaum
CUNY Graduate Center


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