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Hieronymi, Pamela, , . Controlling Attitudes
2006, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 87 (1):45-74
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: I hope to show that, although belief is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, “believing at will” is impossible; one cannot believe in the way one ordinarily acts. Further, the same is true of intention: although intention is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, the features of belief that render believing less than voluntary are present for intention, as well. It turns out, perhaps surprisingly, that you can no more intend at will than believe at will.

Comment: I find this paper to be a valuable addition to classes on implicit biases, reasons, and moral psychology. It provides a good basis for discussion on how these topics relate to free will, and what sorts of control (and responsibilities) we have over our mental lives – including our desires, our beliefs, and other thoughts.

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Hieronymi, Pamela, , . Responsibility for Believing
2008, Synthese 161(3): 357-373.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Abstract: Many assume that we can be responsible only what is voluntary. This leads to puzzlement about our responsibility for our beliefs, since beliefs seem not to be voluntary. I argue against the initial assumption, presenting an account of responsibility and of voluntariness according to which, not only is voluntariness not required for responsibility, but the feature which renders an attitude a fundamental object of responsibility (that the attitude embodies one’s take on the world and one’s place in it) also guarantees that it could not be voluntary. It turns out, then, that, for failing to be voluntary, beliefs are a central example of the sort of thing for which we are most fundamentally responsible.

Comment: This is a great paper on epistemic responsibility about belief. It elucidates how we can be held responsible for our doxastic attitudes even if we don’t have voluntary control over them. It is suitable for teachings on epistemic responsibility and belief in an upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology.

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