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Practical considerations and evidence in James's permission to believe

  • DAVID M. HOLLEY (a1)

Philosophers often read ‘The will to believe’ as defending the substitution of non-epistemic reasons for inadequate epistemic reasons. I contend that a more charitable reading of James's argument is to understand him as proposing a contextualist account of the kind of evidence needed for responsible believing. On my reading, James claims that evidential support that might be insufficient in a purely theoretical context may be good enough when there is a pressing need to decide on a course of action.

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Wayne D. Riggs (2003) ‘Balancing our epistemic goals’, Nous, 37, 342352.

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Ludwig Schlecht (1997) ‘Re-reading “The will to believe” ’, Religious Studies, 33, 217225.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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