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Practical considerations and evidence in James's permission to believe

  • DAVID M. HOLLEY (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0034412514000195
  • Published online: 09 June 2014
Abstract
Abstract

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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John Bishop (2007) Believing By Faith: An Essay in the Epistemology and Ethics of Religious Belief (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Richard Feldman (2006) ‘Clifford's principle and James's options’, Social Epistemology, 20, 1933.

Christopher Franks (2004) ‘Passion and the will to believe’, The Journal of Religion, 84, 431449.

David M. Holley (2011) ‘How can a believer doubt that God exists?’, The Philosophical Quarterly, 61, 746761.

Jonathan Kvanvig (2011) ‘Against pragmatic encroachment’, Logos & Episteme, 2, 7785.

James Montmarquet (2007) ‘“Pure” versus “practical” epistemic justification’, Metaphilosophy, 38, 7187.

Stephen Nathanson (1982) ‘Nonevidential reasons for belief: a Jamesian view’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 42, 572580.

Michael Pace (2011) ‘The epistemic value of moral considerations: justification, moral encroachment, and James’ “Will to Believe”’, Nous, 45, 239268.

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

William Rowe (2007) Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction, 4th edn (Belmont CA: Thomson Wadsworth).

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

D. M. Yeager (1989) ‘Passion and suspicion: religious affections in “The will to believe”’, The Journal of Religion, 69, 467483.

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