William James and the willfulness of belief

It was important to James’s philosophy, especially his doctrine of the will to believe, that we could believe at will. Toward this end he argues in The Principles of Psychology that attending to an idea is identical with believing it, which, in turn, is identical with willing that it be realized. Since willing is identical with believing and willing is an intentional action, it follows by Leibniz’s Law that believing also is an intentional action. This paper explores the problems with James’s thesis that attending=will=belief. An attempt is made to show that it has a salvageable core that is of considerable philosophical interest and importance
Keywords William James  the will to believe
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DOI 10.2307/2653458
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