Reconciling Epistemic Duty with Non-voluntary Belief

By Jill Rusin.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Statements about what a person ought or ought not to believe are common. “Colin Powell ought not to have believed apocryphal CIA reports about Iraq.” Such claims sound as if they attribute epistemic duties to their subjects. Yet many epistemologists reject doxastic voluntarism, the thesis that persons can form beliefs voluntarily. This rejection seems to strip persons of the sort of agency necessary to support epistemic duty. So how might one reconcile epistemic deontology with a rejection of doxastic voluntarism? In this paper, I assess Richard Feldman’s attempt to reconcile these doctrines. I argue that Feldman’s attempt fails, because it overlooks an important connection between deontological judgments and blame.

Keywords: Epistemic Normativity, Epistemic Agency, Epistemic Duty, Doxastic Voluntarism, Feldman

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 8, pp.95-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 586.460KB).

Dr. Jill Rusin

Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

My central area of research is within epistemology but draws from and engages with work in philosophy of language, action theory, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and feminist theory. I have particular interest in skepticism. My current work is on epistemic agency.

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