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Ought to believe vs. ought to reflect

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posted on 2023-06-09, 19:52 authored by Anthony BoothAnthony Booth
Several philosophers think that we do not have duties to believe but that we can nevertheless sometimes be held to blame for our beliefs, since duties relevant to belief are exclusively duties to critical reflection. One important line of argument for this claim goes as follows: we at most have influence (not control) over our beliefs such that we are not responsible for belief, but responsible for the acts of critical reflection that influence them. We can be blameworthy not just for violating a duty but also for the obtaining of a state of affairs that would not have obtained had we not violated a duty. We can thus also be blameworthy for our beliefs even though we have no duties to believe. The chapter levies several objections to this argument, and then defends an alternative argument for the same conclusion. Roughly stated, the argument goes: (supposing, for reductio, that there are duties to believe) if S has a duty to believe that p, then S has a duty to reflect on whether p. But duties to reflect on whether p always undercut duties to believe that p. Thus, the duties relevant to belief are always duties to critical reflection.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Accepted version





Book title

Epistemic duties: new arguments, new angles

Place of publication

New York & London




Routledge Studies in Epistemology

Department affiliated with

  • Philosophy Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Kevin McCain, Scott Stapleford

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