Doxastic responsibility, guidance control, and ownership of belief

Episteme 18 (1):82-98 (2021)
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ABSTRACTThe contemporary debate over responsibility for belief is divided over the issue of whether such responsibility requires doxastic control, and whether this control must be voluntary in nature. It has recently become popular to hold that responsibility for belief does not require voluntary doxastic control, or perhaps even any form of doxastic ‘control’ at all. However, Miriam McCormick has recently argued that doxastic responsibility does in fact require quasi-voluntary doxastic control: “guidance control,” a complex, compatibilist form of control. In this paper, I pursue a negative and a positive task. First, I argue that grounding doxastic responsibility in guidance control requires too much for agents to be the proper targets for attributions of doxastic responsibility. I will focus my criticisms on three cases in which McCormick's account gives the intuitively wrong verdict. Second, I develop a modified conception of McCormick's notion of “ownership of belief,” which I call Weak Doxastic Ownership. I employ this conception to argue that responsibility for belief is possible even in the absence of guidance control. In doing so, I argue that the notion of doxastic ownership can do important normative work in grounding responsibility for belief without being subsumed under or analyzed in terms of the notion of doxastic control.

Author Profiles

Robert Osborne
Northwestern University
Robert Osborne
Northwestern University


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