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Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Volume 88, Issue 1, January 2014

Conor McHugh
Pages 1-37

Exercising Doxastic Freedom

This paper defends the possibility of doxastic freedom, arguing that doxastic freedom should be modelled not on freedom of action but on freedom of intention. Freedom of action is exercised by agents like us, I argue, through voluntary control. This involves two conditions, intentions-reactivity and reasons-reactivity, that are not met in the case of doxastic states. Freedom of intention is central to our agency and to our moral responsibility, but is not exercised through voluntary control. I develop and defend an account of freedom of intention, arguing that constitutive features of intention ensure that freedom of intention cannot require voluntary control. Then I show that an analogous argument can be applied to doxastic states. I argue that if we had voluntary control of intentions or of doxastic states, this would actually undermine our freedom.