In defense of doxastic blame

Synthese 195 (5):2205-2226 (2018)
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In this paper I articulate a view of doxastic control that helps defend the legitimacy of our practice of blaming people for their beliefs. I distinguish between three types of doxastic control: intention-based, reason-based, and influence-based. First I argue that, although we lack direct intention-based control over our beliefs, such control is not necessary for legitimate doxastic blame. Second, I suggest that we distinguish two types of reason-responsiveness: sensitivity to reasons and appreciation of reasons. I argue that while both capacities are necessary for satisfying the control condition, neither is sufficient. Finally, I defend an influence-based view of doxastic control according to which we have the capacity to execute intentions to engage in reflection that causally influences our beliefs in positive epistemic ways. This capacity is both necessary and sufficient for satisfying the control condition for legitimate doxastic blame. I end by defending the view from two objections: that reflection is not necessary for meeting the control condition, and that it is not sufficient.

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Lindsay Rettler
University of Wyoming


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