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Res Philosophica

Volume 90, Issue 2, April 2013

Epistemology

John Zeis
Pages 161-170
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2013.90.2.4

Holding the Faith True

In this paper, I argue that the objections to both doxastic volitionism and doxastic voluntarism fail. Objections to doxastic volitionism and doxastic voluntarism assume a generic notion of belief, a notion which covers both beliefs about things which we know or think we know or are evident to us, as well as beliefs which have some degree of credence but are not clearly evident to the subject. The generic notion of belief includes both sorts of beliefs, but the position against doxastic volitionism is supported only by appeal to beliefs about things which are evident or that we think we know. However, by showing that beliefs which we think we know to be true are not voluntary, the objections leaves open the question whether belief as such is voluntary. Contrary to the opponents of doxastic volitionism, I will show that if what we are after is a generic notion of belief, it ought to be construed as holding true; and if this is what constitutes belief as such, the arguments against doxastic volitionism for faith beliefs fail. The strongest argument against doxastic voluntarism is an evidentialist argument concerning the ethics of belief. That argument is basically that even if choosing belief is psychologically possible, evidentialism rules it out as epistemically irresponsible. In the last section of this article, I will argue that if religious belief is constituted by true propositions of the faith, the evidentialist objection to doxastic voluntarism fails.