Does doxastic responsibility entail the ability to believe otherwise?
- Rik Peels
- … show all 1 hide
Purchase on Springer.com
$39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95*
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
Whether responsibility for actions and omissions requires the ability to do otherwise is an important issue in contemporary philosophy. However, a closely related but distinct issue, namely whether doxastic responsibility requires the ability to believe otherwise, has been largely neglected. This paper fills this remarkable lacuna by providing a defence of the thesis that doxastic responsibility entails the ability to believe otherwise. On the one hand, it is argued that the fact that unavoidability is normally an excuse counts in favour of this thesis. On the other hand, three objections against this thesis are discussed and criticized. First, one might think that what suffices for doxastic responsibility is control over or influence on certain desirable or undesirable properties of beliefs. It is argued that this objection misrepresents the issue under consideration. Second, it may be objected that the thesis is contradicted by our intuitions in doxastic analogues of Frankfurt-style scenarios. It is argued that distinguishing between belief-universals and belief-particulars helps to see why this argument fails. Third and finally, one might draw an analogy with the asymmetry thesis in ethics by arguing that even if blameworthy belief requires the ability to believe otherwise, praiseworthy belief does not. It is argued that the main arguments in favour of this presumed asymmetry are wanting, partly because they fail to distinguish between two different kinds of praiseworthiness. Finally, the author sketches three implications of the thesis that doxastic responsibility entails the ability to believe otherwise: counterfactual construals of responsible belief might be tenable, the deontological conception of epistemic justification needs revision on an important point, and there might be an important asymmetry between beliefs on the one hand and actions and many non-doxastic consequences on the other.
- Adams R. M. (1985) Involuntary sins. The Philosophical Review 94(1): 3–31 CrossRef
- Alston, W. P. (1989). The deontological conception of epistemic justification. In Epistemic justification: Essays in the theory of knowledge (pp. 115–152). Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press.
- Bennett J. (1980) Accountability. In: Van Straaten Z. (Ed.), Philosophical subjects: Essays presented to P.F. Strawson. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 14–47
- Bonjour L. (1985) The structure of empirical knowledge. Harvard University Press, Cambridge
- Booth A. R., Peels R. (2010) Why responsible belief is blameless belief. Journal of Philosophy 107(5): 257–265
- Chisholm R. M. (1977) Theory of knowledge. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliff
- Clarke M. (1986) Doxastic voluntarism and forced belief. Philosophical Studies 50(1): 39–51 CrossRef
- Clifford, W. K. (1901). The ethics of belief. In Lectures and essays, Vol. II (pp. 163–205). London: Macmillan.
- Corlett J. A. (2008) Epistemic responsibility. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16(2): 179–200 CrossRef
- Dretske F. (2000) Entitlement: Epistemic rights without epistemic duties?. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60(3): 591–606 CrossRef
- Fischer, J. M. (1985–1986). Responsibility and failure. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 86, 251–270.
- Fischer J. M. (1994) The metaphysics of free will: An essay on control. Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge
- Fischer J. M., Ravizza M. (1992) Responsibility, freedom, and reason. Ethics 102(2): 368–389 CrossRef
- Fischer J. M., Ravizza M. (1993) Responsibility for consequences. In: Fischer J. M., Ravizza M. (Eds.), Perspectives on moral responsibility. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 322–347
- Fischer J. M., Ravizza M. (1998) Responsibility and control: A theory of moral responsibility. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge CrossRef
- Frankfurt H. G. (1969) Alternate possibilities and moral responsibility. The Journal of Philosophy 66(23): 829–839 CrossRef
- Frankfurt H. G. (1993) What we are morally responsible for. In: Fischer J. M. , Ravizza M. (Eds.), Perspectives on moral responsibility. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 286–295
- Haji I. (2000) Alternate possibilities and responsibility. Journal of Social Philosophy 31(3): 259–267 CrossRef
- Haji I. (2000) Control requirements for moral appraisals: An asymmetry. The Journal of Ethics 4(4): 351–356
- Heil J. (1984) Doxastic incontinence. Mind 93: 56–70 CrossRef
- Heller M. (2000) Hobartian voluntarism: Grounding a deontological conception of epistemic justification. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81: 130–141 CrossRef
- Hetherington S. (2002) Epistemic responsibility: A dilemma. The Monist 85(3): 398–414 CrossRef
- Jäger, C. (2004). Epistemic deontology, doxastic voluntarism, and the principle of alternate possibilities. In W. Löffler & P. Weingartner (Eds.), Knowledge and belief: Proceedings of the 26th international Wittgenstein symposium (pp. 217–227). Vienna: Öbv&hpt Verlagsgesellschaft.
- Kim K. (1994) The deontological conception of epistemic justification and doxastic voluntarism. Analysis 54(4): 282–284 CrossRef
- Kornblith H. (1983) Justified belief and epistemically responsible action. Philosophical Review 92(1): 33–48 CrossRef
- Leon M. (2002) Responsible believers. The Monist 85(3): 421–435 CrossRef
- Montmarquet J. A. (1993) Epistemic virtue and doxastic responsibility. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
- Nottelmann N. (2007) Blameworthy belief: A study in epistemic deontologism. Springer, Dordrecht
- Nottelmann, N., & Peels, R. (2013). Some metaphysical implications of a credible ethics of belief. In N. Nottelmann (Ed.), New essays on belief: Structure, constitution, and content (provisional title). New York: Palgrave Macmillan; forthcoming.
- Ryan S. (2003) Doxastic compatibilism and the ethics of belief. Philosophical Studies 17(1–2): 47–79 CrossRef
- Smith A. M. (2005) Responsibility for attitudes: Activity and passivity in mental life. Ethics 115(1): 236–271 CrossRef
- Steup M. (1988) The deontic conception of epistemic justification. Philosophical Studies 53(1): 65–84 CrossRef
- Steup M. (2008) Doxastic freedom. Synthese 31(3): 375–392 CrossRef
- Stocker M. (1982) Responsibility especially for beliefs. Mind 91(3): 398–417 CrossRef
- Strawson, P. F. (1974). Freedom and resentment. In Freedom and resentment and other essays (pp. 1–25). London: Methuen & Co.
- Van Inwagen P. (1983) An essay on free will. Clarendon Press, Oxford
- Wolf S. (1980) Asymmetrical freedom. Journal of Philosophy 77(3): 151–166 CrossRef
- Wolf S. (1990) Freedom within reason. Oxford University Press, New York
- Wolterstorff N. (2005) Obligation, entitlement, and rationality. In: Steup M., Sosa E. (Eds.), Contemporary debates in epistemology. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, pp 326–338
- Zagzebski L. (2001) Must knowers be agents?. In: Fairweather A., Zagzebski L. (Eds.), Virtue epistemology: Essays on epistemic virtue and responsibility. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 142–157
- Does doxastic responsibility entail the ability to believe otherwise?
Volume 190, Issue 17 , pp 3651-3669
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Ability to believe otherwise
- Doxastic responsibility
- Frankfurt-style cases
- Industry Sectors
- Rik Peels (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Philosophy Department, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands