In a recent series of papers, Matthias Steup has defended doxastic voluntarism against longstanding objections. Many of his arguments center on the following conditional: if we accept a compatibilist notion of voluntary control, then, in most instances, belief-formation is voluntary and doxastic voluntarism the correct view. Steup defends two versions of this conditional. The first is universal, moving from compatibilism considered generally to doxastic voluntarism: if compatibilism is true, then doxastic voluntarism is true. The second is more particular, moving from the specific form of reasons-responsive compatibilism to doxastic voluntarism: if reasons-responsive compatibilism is true, then doxastic voluntarism is true. I argue that Steup’s arguments for both conditionals fail, in which case we lack reason to believe in either of them. In the final section of the paper, I argue that the impossibility of epistemic akrasia provides prima facie reason to think the latter conditional is false.
KeywordsDoxastic voluntarism Free will Compatibilism Epistemic reasons
This paper has been helped by many. I want to especially thank the following people for providing very instructive comments: Jeff Speaks, Tim Perrine, Will Reckner, Zac Bachmann, and Philip Swenson. Thank you also to attendees of the 2014 UCLA/USC graduate student conference and the SCP session at the 2014 ACPA meeting.
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