Belief, Obligation, and Objectivity
In this paper, I develop and argue for the view that an agent’s moral obligations depend on their non-moral beliefs, a view which I call doxasticism. I situate doxasticism within the current debate on whether an agent’s moral obligations have any dependence on their epistemic or doxastic state. Objectivism is the view that an agent’s moral obligations do not depend on their evidence or their beliefs, prospectivism is the view that an agent’s moral obligations depend on their evidence, and subjectivism is the view that an agent’s moral obligations depend on what they believe is morally best. After using examples levied by subjectivists to motivate the case against objectivism and prospectivism, I argue that if doxasticism can capture the same insights as subjectivism in those cases while also not facing numerous objections that subjectivism does, then we should be doxasticists rather than subjectivists. I also argue that doxasticism has no incompatibility with robust moral realism, because moral obligations are still metaphysically objective under doxasticism. Next, I develop the finer technical details of doxasticism. I construct doxasticism from two principles: that ought implies can, and that moral obligations must be able to guide belief. In doing so, I introduce a novel modal concept of psychological possibility to describe the possibility of forming intentions to act. Lastly, I develop the metaethical implications of doxasticism. I claim that the dependence of moral obligations on non-moral beliefs is described by a particular form of moral supervenience, and I reconcile doxasticism with contemporary accounts of the metaphysics of moral laws and moral explanations.
U.S. copyright laws protect this material. Commercial use or distribution of this material is not permitted without prior written permission of the copyright holder. All rights reserved.