R&D

How Radical is Van Fraassen's Voluntarism? (Assessing Recent Developments in Bayesian Reasoning)

Citation: Pool, M., "How Radical is Van Fraassen's Voluntarism? (Assessing Recent Developments in Bayesian Reasoning)", Dialogue: The Canadian Philosophical Review, 39, Summer 2000, pp. 475?90.

Abstract

Bas van Fraassen argues that the Reflection principle is a constraint on rationality and ties it to a doctrine of epistemological voluntarism, the view that belief is a matter of the will. I argue that the version of voluntarism consistent with both Reflection and van Fraassen's belief that epistemic judgements are commitments is a much different kind of voluntarism than that envisioned by William James or Blaise Pascal. In fact, van Fraassen's claim to have established a liberating, pragmatic epistemology is cast into doubt by his claim that the Reflection principle establishes his voluntarism. Van Fraassen can salvage the Reflection principle only within an epistemology that is more restrictive than that envisioned.

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