Believe What You Want

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The Uncontrollability thesis is that it is metaphysically impossible to consciously believe that p at will. I review the standard ways in which this might be explained. They focus on the aim or purpose of belief being truth. I argue that these don’t work. They either explain the aim in a way which makes it implausible that the Uncontrollability thesis is true or they fail to justify their claim that beliefs should be understood as aimed at the truth. I further argue that the explanations don’t cut deep enough. Making the aim of truth internal to a state does not explain why we can’t produce at will states without this feature but sharing these states’ motivational role. I put forward a different explanation. I argue that consciousness makes manifest the attraction of the norm of truth. If we are consciously attending to the question of whether p, we cannot help but make a judgement in line with what the evidence gives us grounds for believing is true.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-265
Number of pages19
JournalProceedings of the Aristotelian Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001

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