Degree Name

BA

Department

Philosophy

College

Humanities

Defense Date

2019-12-09

Publication Date

2019

First Faculty Advisor

Nathan Rockwood

First Faculty Reader

Devid Jensen

Honors Coordinator

David Laraway

Keywords

doxastic voluntarism, religious diversity, justification, belief, epistemology

Abstract

The reality of religious diversity raises questions about belief-formation, rationality, and epistemic peerhood. Doxastic voluntarism, the view that we can choose to form certain beliefs, is one proposed account of how we form beliefs in the absence of empirical evidence or conclusive reasoning, which is generally the case with religious beliefs. Direct doxastic voluntarism is the view that in some cases, we exercise immediate control over the beliefs we form. Indirect doxastic voluntarism is the view that we can only exercise control over some factors surrounding the belief-formation process but that this control nonetheless constitutes a choice of belief. I address the most common arguments for both forms of doxastic voluntarism and show that they cannot apply to religious belief. I then present three further reasons to reject doxastic voluntarism as a whole. First, neither the internalist nor the externalism conception of justification supports it as a legitimate belief-forming method. Second, it cannot account for the level of epistemic confidence we require of belief. Finally, it entails an objectionable degree of intellectual arrogance in the case of epistemic disagreement.

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