Voluntary Belief and Epistemic Evaluation

Richard Feldman

in Knowledge, Truth, and Duty

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780195128925
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833764 | DOI:
Voluntary Belief and Epistemic Evaluation

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Feldman defends the view that epistemic justification is analyzable in terms of an epistemic ‘ought’ against the objection that, unlike action, belief is not under voluntary control, which it would have to be if epistemic justification is indeed a function of what we ought to believe. In response to Steup's argument that we do enjoy voluntary control over our beliefs because we can deliberate, Feldman argues that for belief to be voluntary, it would have to be intentional, which typically it is not. So Feldman holds that belief is not, in any significant sense, under our voluntary control. However, he rejects the other premise on which the objection is based: that for belief to be under the scope of an epistemic ‘ought’, it must be under voluntary control. He suggests that the epistemic ‘ought’ is a role ‘ought’ – an ‘ought’ that simply tells us what we should do in our role as believers – and thus crucially differs from the moral ‘ought’ because it does not require voluntary control.

Keywords: belief; doxastic involuntarism; epistemic justification; epistemic ought; intentional; role ought; voluntary control

Chapter.  8353 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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