Epistemic deontology and voluntariness

McHugh, Conor (2012) Epistemic deontology and voluntariness. Erkenntnis, 77, 65-94. (doi:10.1007/s10670-011-9299-6).


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We tend to prescribe and appraise doxastic states in terms that are broadly deontic. According to a simple argument, such prescriptions and appraisals are improper, because they wrongly presuppose that our doxastic states are voluntary. One strategy for resisting this argument, recently endorsed by a number of philosophers, is to claim that our doxastic states are in fact voluntary (This strategy has been pursued by Steup 2008; Weatherson 2008). In this paper I argue that this strategy is neither successful nor necessary. Our doxastic states are not voluntary in any interesting sense. But once we see why our doxastic states are not voluntary, we can also see that there is no apparent reason to think that deontic prescriptions and appraisals—epistemic ones, at any rate—presuppose doxastic voluntarism. Indeed, there is good reason to deny that they do so. Finally, I diagnose the misleading attraction of the idea that what I call ‘epistemic deontology’ presupposes doxastic voluntarism.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1007/s10670-011-9299-6
ISSNs: 0165-0106 (print)
1572-8420 (electronic)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions : Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy
ePrint ID: 196339
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2011 12:27
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:44
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/196339

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