There are several questions about the relationship between belief and voluntariness that I’m planning to write about over the upcoming months. Several of these topics will be pretty familiar, but some might not be. (I’m interested in the role that doxastic voluntarism, or something like it, plays in Meditation Four, for instance, which is not as far as I can tell one of the big topics on the radar screen in contemporary philosophy.)
But those are for more serious posts. Today I just want to make a little observation. Philosophers often write as if it is obvious that we can’t decide to form beliefs. You might think that if this is obvious, then authors would never have characters, let alone narrators, decide to form beliefs. But if you did you’d be very badly mistaken.
For what it’s worth, I suspect the psychological assumptions these authors are making are quite plausible. When someone tells us something that is plausible, but not such that we should obviously trust them, we have to decide whether we will, on this occasion, trust them. If we have no other reason to believe what they say, but trusting them will involve (perhaps inter alia) believing what they say, then we are deciding to believe.