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  1. Doxastic Voluntarism.Mark Boespflug & Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Doxastic voluntarism is the thesis that our beliefs are subject to voluntary control. While there’s some controversy as to what “voluntary control” amounts to (see 1.2), it’s often understood as direct control: the ability to bring about a state of affairs “just like that,” without having to do anything else. Most of us have direct control over, for instance, bringing to mind an image of a pine tree. Can one, in like fashion, voluntarily bring it about that one believes a (...)
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  2.  12
    Locke's twilight of probability: an epistemology of rational assent.Mark Boespflug - 2023 - New York: Routledge.
    This book provides a systematic treatment of Locke's theory of probable assent. It shows how the theory applies to Locke's philosophy of science, moral epistemology, and religious epistemology. There is a powerful case to be made that the most important dimension of Locke's philosophy is his theory of rational probable assent, rather than his theory of knowledge. According to Locke, we largely live our lives in the "twilight of probability" rather than in "the sunshine of certain knowledge". Locke's theory of (...)
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  3.  57
    Locke on testimony.Mark Boespflug - 2019 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (6):1135-1150.
    ABSTRACTThere is good reason to regard John Locke’s treatment of testimony as perhaps the most important of the early modern period. It is sophisticated, well developed, pioneering, and seems to ha...
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  4.  36
    Why Reid was no dogmatist.Mark Boespflug - 2019 - Synthese 196 (11):4511-4525.
    According to dogmatism, a perceptual experience with p as its content is always a source of justification for the belief that p. Thomas Reid has been an extant source of inspiration for this view. I argue, however, that, though there is a superficial consonance between Reid’s position and that of the dogmatists, their views are, more fundamentally, at variance with one another. While dogmatists take their position to express a necessary epistemic truth, discernible a priori, Reid holds that if something (...)
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  5.  12
    Only Light and Evidence: Locke on the Will to Believe.Mark Boespflug - 2021 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 38 (1):1-21.
    John Locke has been widely understood to hold that belief is under one's direct control. This doxastic voluntarism appears to be implicit in his evidentialism, his doxastic moralism, and his postulation of an ability to suspend assent. I argue, first, that interpreting Locke as a doxastic voluntarist is untenable—at odds with his conception of knowledge, probable assent, and religious belief. I also claim that interpreting Locke as a voluntarist fails to cohere with his understanding of the intellect's relation to the (...)
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  6.  50
    Why Every Belief is a Choice: Descartes’ Doxastic Voluntarism Reconsidered.Mark Boespflug - 2023 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 31 (2):158-178.
    Descartes appears to hold that everything we believe is the product of a voluntary choice. Scholars have been reluctant to take this particularly radical version of doxastic voluntarism as Descartes’ considered position. I argue that once Descartes’ compatibilist conception of free will as well as his position on the ‘freedom of indifference’ are taken into account, the primary motivations for the rejection of the aforementioned radical version of doxastic voluntarism lose their force. Consequently, we may take Descartes at his word (...)
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  7.  36
    Locke’s Principle of Proportionality.Mark Boespflug - 2019 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 101 (2):237-257.
    Locke’s principle of proportionality – among his most important contributions to philosophy – states that we ought to apportion our assent to a given proposition in accord with the probability of that proposition on an adequate body of evidence. I argue that treatments of Locke’s principle fail to avoid interpreting it as a fundamentally doxastic prescription – a precept concerning how we ought to voluntarily control our assent. These interpretations are problematic on account of their implications concerning the degree of (...)
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  8.  49
    The Legacy of Reid's Common Sense in Analytic Epistemology.Mark Boespflug - 2019 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 17 (1):23-37.
    The common sense that heavily informs the epistemology of Thomas Reid has been recently hailed as instructive with regard to some of the most fundamental issues in epistemology by a burgeoning segment of analytic epistemologists. These admirers of Reid may be called dogmatists. I highlight three ways in which Reid's approach has been a model to be imitated in the estimation of dogmatists. First, common sense propositions are taken to be the benchmarks of epistemology inasmuch as they constitute paradigm cases (...)
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  9.  55
    Robert Holcot on Doxastic Voluntarism and the Ethics of Belief.Mark Boespflug - 2018 - Res Philosophica 95 (4):617-636.
    In the Middle Ages, the view that agents are able to exercise direct voluntary control over their beliefs—doxastic voluntarism—was pervasive. It was held by Augustine, Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham, and Buridan, among many others. Herein, I show that the somewhat neglected Oxford Dominican, Robert Holcot (†1349), rejected doxastic voluntarism with a coherence and plausibility that reflects and anticipates much contemporary thought on the issue. I, further, suggest that Holcot’s rejection of the idea that agents can voluntarily control their beliefs is intimately (...)
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  10.  21
    Thomistic Faith Naturalized? The Epistemic Significance of Aquinas’s Appeal to Doxastic Instinct.Mark Boespflug - 2021 - Faith and Philosophy 38 (2):245-261.
    Aquinas’s conception of faith has been taken to involve believing in a way that is expressly out of keeping with the evidence. Rather than being produced by evidence, the confidence involved in faith is a product of the will’s decision. This causes Aquinas’s conception of faith to look flagrantly irrational. Herein, I offer an interpretation of Aquinas’s position on faith that has not been previously proposed. I point out that Aquinas responds to the threat of faith’s irrationality by explicitly maintaining (...)
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