Responsible Believing


In addressing these questions about responsibility and control, I have tried to develop a notion of doxastic control that does not require that we be able to believe at will. In developing this view, I draw from John Fischer’s discussions of “guidance control.” A central feature of this kind of control is the idea of “ownership.” Those aspects of our lives for which we take responsibility are the ones we own. I think we can own our beliefs in this manner and that we expect each other to do so. Beliefs are products of our agency, something we have an active role in shaping and maintaining. Although we cannot believe at will, neither are we passive in the beliefs we form. We take responsibility for our beliefs and taking responsibility includes taking control of them. We are blamed when we lose this grasp, when we do not exercise our reflective competence which helps us believe the way we ought to believe.

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Copyright © 2008 Teagle Foundation. This chapter first appeared in Toward a Pedagogy of Belief and Doubt: A Teagle Foundation White Paper,

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