Reconciling Epistemic Duty with Non-voluntary Belief

Rusin, Jill
November 2010
International Journal of the Humanities;2010, Vol. 8 Issue 8, p95
Academic Journal
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.


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