David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Social Epistemology 20 (1):19 – 33 (2006)
In this paper I discuss William J. Clifford's principle, "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence" and an objection to it based on William James's contention that "Our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must, decide an option between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds." I argue that on one central way of understanding the key terms, there are no genuine options that cannot be decided on intellectual grounds. I also argue that there is another way to understand the terms so that there are cases of the sort James describes, but then, as an objection to Clifford, the argument is needlessly complex, invoking concepts such as genuine options and intellectual undecidability, that play no crucial role.
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References found in this work BETA
Roderick M. Chisholm (1966). Theory of Knowledge. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,Prentice-Hall.
W. K. Clifford (2000). The Ethics of Belief. In Brian Davies (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology. OUP Oxford
William Kingdon Clifford, Frederick Pollock & Leslie Stephen (eds.) (1968). Lectures and Essays. Macmillan.
William James (1897). The Will to Believe. New York, Longmans, Green and Co..
Citations of this work BETA
Michael Pace (2011). The Epistemic Value of Moral Considerations: Justification, Moral Encroachment, and James' 'Will To Believe'. Noûs 45 (2):239-268.
John Zeis (2013). Holding the Faith True. Res Philosophica 90 (2):161-170.
John Zeis (2010). Evidentialism Versus Faith. Social Epistemology 24 (1):1 – 13.
David M. Holley (2015). Practical Considerations and Evidence in James's Permission to Believe. Religious Studies 51 (1):21-39.
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