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Non-evidential believing and permissivism about evidence: a reply to Dan-Johan Eklund



In response to John Bishop's (2007) account of passionally caused believing, Dan-Johan Eklund (2014) argues that conscious non-evidential believing is (conceptually) impossible, that is, it's (conceptually) impossible consciously to believe that p whilst acknowledging that the relevant evidence doesn't support p's being true, for it conflicts with belief being a truth-oriented attitude, or so he argues. In this article, we present Eklund's case against Bishop's account of passionally caused believing, and we argue that it's unpersuasive, at least to those who accept permissivism about evidence, that is, that it's possible for there to be more than one rational response to a given body of evidence. We do this through a novel application of a case of nurtured belief, that is, of a person holding a belief simply because she was caused to do so by her upbringing, and we use it to show exactly where Eklund's argument goes wrong. We conclude by drawing a general lesson drawn from this debate: if permissivism about evidence is true, then belief being truth-oriented is consistent with non-evidential believing being possible.


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Alvarez, M. (2010) Kinds of Reasons (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Bishop, J. (2005) ‘Faith as a doxastic venture’, Religious Studies, 38, 471487.
Bishop, J. (2007) Believing by Faith: An Essay in the Epistemology and Ethics of Religious Belief (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Buckareff, A. (2005) ‘Can faith be a doxastic venture?’, Religious Studies, 41, 447451.
Eklund, D. (2014) ‘Is non-evidential believing possible? John Bishop on passionally caused beliefs’, Religious Studies, 50, 309320.
James, W. (1897/2011) ‘The will to believe’, in Shook, J. (ed.) The Essential William James (New York: Prometheus Books), 157178.
Schoenfield, M. (2014). ‘Permission to Believe’, Noûs, 48, 193218.
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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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