Choosing to believe
This article defends a regulative ethics of voluntary belief. In order to determine the occasion and the scope of such an ethics, the article begins with an examination of the concept of belief in conversation with the view of J. L. Schellenberg. Next, against the dominant position in contemporary epistemology, it argues that some beliefs can be voluntary, in the sense that they are under the immediate control of the believer, and replies to William Alston’s influential objections to doxastic voluntarism. If some beliefs are subject to the immediate control of the believer, then in these cases believers are ethically responsible not only for how they investigate those beliefs, but also for the choice of whether or not to believe them. The article concludes by formulating and defending two types of regulative ethical principles governing voluntary belief.
KeywordsBelief Ethics William Alston J. L. Schellenberg Doxastic voluntarism Evidentialism Faith Self-deception
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