Clifford's principle and James's options

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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DOI 10.1080/02691720600631645
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References found in this work BETA
Roderick M. Chisholm (1966). Theory of Knowledge. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,Prentice-Hall.
William James (1897/2005). The Will to Believe. New York, Longmans, Green and Co..

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Citations of this work BETA
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.

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