, Volume 195, Issue 5, pp 2205–2226 | Cite as

In defense of doxastic blame

  • Lindsay Rettler


In this paper I articulate a view of doxastic control that helps defend the legitimacy of our practice of blaming people for their beliefs. I distinguish between three types of doxastic control: intention-based, reason-based, and influence-based. First I argue that, although we lack direct intention-based control over our beliefs, such control is not necessary for legitimate doxastic blame. Second, I suggest that we distinguish two types of reason-responsiveness: sensitivity to reasons and appreciation of reasons. I argue that while both capacities are necessary for satisfying the control condition, neither is sufficient. Finally, I defend an influence-based view of doxastic control according to which we have the capacity to execute intentions to engage in reflection that causally influences our beliefs in positive epistemic ways. This capacity is both necessary and sufficient for satisfying the control condition for legitimate doxastic blame. I end by defending the view from two objections: that reflection is not necessary for meeting the control condition, and that it is not sufficient.


Epistemology Doxastic agency Doxastic blame Ethics of belief Doxastic voluntarism Moral blame 



I presented earlier versions of this paper at the 2014 Pacific APA and the 2015 Alabama Philosophical Society; thanks to those in attendance for their questions and objections. Thanks to Ryan Bond, Blake McAllister, Caroline Paddock, Hope Sample, and Keren Wilson for productive exchanges about the ideas here; and thanks to Matt Frise, Allan Hazlett, Dan Howard-Snyder, Daniel Immerman. Abe Roth, Meg Schmitt, Tim Schroeder, and two anonymous referees for detailed comments. Special thanks to Bradley Rettler for several helpful discussions and to Declan Smithies for many invaluable conversations and extensive comments on multiple drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Baylor UniversityWacoUSA

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