David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy 58 (225):353 - 364 (1983)
There is widespread agreement among philosophers that William James's well-known attempt to justify religious faith in ‘The Will to Believe’ is a failure. But despite the fact that James wrote his essay as a reply to the ‘tough-minded’ ethics of belief represented by such thinkers as W. K. Clifford and T. H. Huxley, the reasons commonly given today for rejecting James's position seem to be mostly based on the same principle of intellectual ethics that motivated Clifford and Huxley. Clifford, it may be recalled, maintained that ‘It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence’. Although this is a rather rhetorical way of stating it, the principle is basically the same one adhered to by most scientists and philosophers who consider themselves rigorous and ‘objective’ thinkers. Even philosophers not associated with the hardheaded modern Anglo-American style of empiricism commonly pledge their allegiance to such a principle. For example, Brand Blanshard holds that the ‘main principle’ of the ethics of belief is that one should ‘equate one's assent to the evidence’ and he then goes on to criticize James, on the basis of this principle, for advocating self-deception and intellectual dishonesty
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Richard M. Gale (1999). William James and the Willfulness of Belief. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (1):71-91.
Vincent Colapietro (2010). Present at the End?: Who Will Be There When the Last Stone is Thrown? Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 46 (1):9-20.
Michael Lopresto (2011). The Ethics of Belief. Emergent Australasian Philosophers (4):9.
Robert J. O'Connell (1997). William James on the Courage to Believe. Fordham University Press.
D. S. Miller (1898). Book Review: The Will to Believe, and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy. William James. [REVIEW] Ethics 8 (2):254-.
Max Carl Otto (ed.) (1942). William James. Madison, the University of Wisconsin Press.
Brian Zamulinski (2002). A Re-Evaluation of Clifford and His Critics. Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):437-457.
Jennifer Welchman (2006). William James's "the Will to Believe" and the Ethics of Self-Experimentation. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 42 (2):229-241.
Added to index2010-08-10
Total downloads14 ( #126,553 of 1,410,220 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #95,293 of 1,410,220 )
How can I increase my downloads?