Choosing and refusing: doxastic voluntarism and folk psychology

Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2507-2537 (2018)
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A standard view in contemporary philosophy is that belief is involuntary, either as a matter of conceptual necessity or as a contingent fact of human psychology. We present seven experiments on patterns in ordinary folk-psychological judgments about belief. The results provide strong evidence that voluntary belief is conceptually possible and, granted minimal charitable assumptions about folk-psychological competence, provide some evidence that voluntary belief is psychologically possible. We also consider two hypotheses in an attempt to understand why many philosophers have been tempted to view belief as involuntary: that belief is a prototype concept and that belief is a dual character concept. Altogether, our findings contribute to longstanding philosophical debates about the relationship between the will and the intellect, while also advancing scientific understanding of important social judgments.

Author Profiles

David Rose
Stanford University
Wesley Buckwalter
George Mason University
John Turri
University of Waterloo


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