Negative Doxastic Voluntarism and the concept of belief

Synthese 194 (8):2695–2720 (2017)
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Pragmatists have argued that doxastic or epistemic norms do not apply to beliefs, but to changes of beliefs; thus not to the holding or not-holding, but to the acquisition or removal of beliefs. Doxastic voluntarism generally claims that humans acquire beliefs in a deliberate and controlled way. This paper introduces Negative Doxastic Voluntarism according to which there is a fundamental asymmetry in belief change: humans tend to acquire beliefs more or less automatically and unreflectively, but they tend to withdraw beliefs in a controlled and deliberate way. I first present a variety of philosophical, empirical and logical arguments for Negative Doxastic Voluntarism. Then I raise two objections against it. First, the apparent asymmetry may result from a confusion of belief with other doxastic attitudes like assumption, supposition, hypothesis or opinion. Second, the apparent asymmetry seems to vanish if we focus on doxastic states rather than just beliefs. Some rejoinders and their consequences for the vague concept of belief are sketched



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Hans Rott
Universität Regensburg

Citations of this work

The ethics of belief.Andrew Chignell - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On Schurz’s Construction Paradigm of Scientific Theory Development.Atocha Aliseda - 2023 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 54 (3):473-490.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.
Aboutness.Stephen Yablo - 2014 - Oxford: Princeton University Press.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 11 (3):506-507.

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