Doxastic voluntarism is a philosophical view that people elect their own beliefs. That is, that subjects have a certain amount of control over what they believe, such that a subject may choose whether or not to believe a certain thing. This philosophical view is derived from a branch of logic known as doxastic logic, however, as opposed to other philosophical views on belief, doxastic voluntarism claims each human agent as the author of one's own beliefs. Doxastic voluntarism falls under the branch of philosophy known as ethics of belief.
Philosophers argue that there are two types of doxastic voluntarism: direct doxastic voluntarism and indirect doxastic voluntarism. Direct doxastic voluntarism being that the person has control over some of their beliefs (e.g. an individual changes his belief from theism to atheism) and indirect doxastic voluntarism is that the person has unintended control, through voluntary intermediate actions, over some of their beliefs (e.g. researching and unintentionally evaluating the evidence).
Doxastic voluntarism is the philosophical doctrine according to which people have voluntary control over their beliefs. Philosophers in the debate about doxastic voluntarism distinguish between two kinds of voluntary control. The first is known as direct voluntary control and refers to acts which are such that if a person chooses to perform them, they happen immediately. For instance, a person has direct voluntary control over whether he or she is thinking about his or her favorite song at a given moment. The second is known as indirect voluntary control and refers to acts which are such that although a person lacks direct voluntary control over them, he or she can cause them to happen if he or she chooses to perform some number of other, intermediate actions. For instance, a person untrained in music has indirect voluntary control over whether he or she will play a melody on a violin. Corresponding to this distinction between two kinds of voluntary control, philosophers distinguish between two kinds of doxastic voluntarism. Direct doxastic voluntarism claims that people have direct voluntary control over at least some of their beliefs. Indirect doxastic voluntarism, however, supposes that people have indirect voluntary control over at least some of their beliefs, for example, by doing research and evaluating evidence.
3. Direct Doxastic Voluntarism
Is direct doxastic voluntarism true? On this issue, philosophers are divided. Many argue that it is not, but some argue that it is. To each position, however, there are important challenges. Let us consider the most influential arguments and counterarguments in some detail, beginning with arguments against direct doxastic voluntarism. [...]
In light of these definitions, if direct doxastic voluntarism is true, then in principle it should be possible for an atheist to simply choose to believe in God. However, most atheists would object that this is not the case, that they are incapable of "choosing" to believe in God, because they find the evidence unconvincing (e.g. Isn't it illogical for an atheist to go to hell?).
Are there any Christian groups or denominations that believe that direct doxastic voluntarism is true? If so, do these groups or denominations believe that an atheist should be able to override their skepticism and choose to believe that God exists at will (contrary to what atheist sites like this one affirm)?
- Isn't it illogical for an atheist to go to hell?
- Believing that Christianity is "probably" true vs. being fully convinced that Christianity is definitely true?
- From a Christian perspective, what are "nonresistant nonbelievers" most likely doing wrong that prevents them from finding and believing in God?