In Search of Doxastic Involuntarism

Philosophical Studies 179 (2):615-631 (2022)
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Abstract

Doxastic involuntarists, as I categorize them, say that it’s impossible to form a belief as an intentional action. But what exactly is it to form a belief, as opposed to simply getting yourself to have one? This question has been insufficiently addressed, and the lacuna threatens the involuntarists’ position: if the question isn’t answered, their view will lack any clear content; but, after considering some straightforward ways of answering it, I argue that they would make involuntarism either false or insignificant. I also examine several involuntarist arguments, and find them faltering at just this point: inadequate attention to belief-formation results in unsound arguments or insignificant conclusions. The viability of involuntarism as a meaningful position, I conclude, turns on whether the notion of belief-formation can be further developed.

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Matthew Vermaire
University of Glasgow

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