Responsible belief, influence, and control: Response to Stephen White

Rik Peels*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


I reply to Stephen White’s criticisms of my Influence View. First, I reply to his worry that my Appraisal Account of responsibility cannot make sense of doxastic responsibility. Then, I discuss in detail his stolen painting case and argue that the Influence View can make sense of it. Next, I discuss various other cases that are meant to show that acting in accordance with one’s beliefs does not render one blameless. I argue that in these cases, even though the subjects act in accordance with their own beliefs, there is plenty of reason to think that at some previous point in time they violated certain intellectual obligations that led to them to hold those beliefs. Even on a radically subjective account of responsibility, then, we can perfectly well hold these people responsible for their beliefs. I go on to defend the idea that reasons-responsiveness will not do for doxastic responsibility: we need influence on our beliefs as well. Thus, doxastic compatibilism or rationalism is untenable. Subsequently, I defend my earlier claim that there is a crucial difference between beliefs and actions in that actions are often subject to the will, whereas beliefs are not. Finally, I respond to White’s worry that if one has a subjective epistemic obligation just because one believes that certain actions are epistemically bad, some people will have a wide range of absurd epistemic obligations, such as the obligation to listen to Infowars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Compatibilism
  • Epistemic obligation
  • Excuse
  • Influence view
  • Rationalism
  • Responsibility


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