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Summary Traditional theistic arguments conclude that God exists. Practical arguments for theism, by contrast, conclude that we have practical reason(s) to believe in God. This category includes papers on miscellaneous practical arguments for theism other than Pascal's wager. For example, historically, both Al-Ghazālī (The Alchemy of Happiness) and William James (The Will to Believe) advance pragmatic arguments for theism. 
Introductions For an introduction to pragmatic arguments for theism, see Duncan 2013.
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39 found
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  1. On Jamesian ‘Passionally Caused Atheistic Belief’: A Reply to Cockayne and Warman.Alberto Oya - forthcoming - Sophia:1-5.
    Cockayne and Warman recently argued that William James’s argument as stated in his lecture ‘The Will to Believe’ can be reconstructed so as to justify a ‘passionately caused atheism.’ I will argue that this reading misses the important point of James’s argument, which is the attempt to show that our initial atheistic passional tendencies become untenable once we are aware of the beneficial consequences we might obtain from forming the belief that God exists.
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  2. Pragmatic Skepticism.Susanna Rinard - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Pragmatic responses to skepticism have been overlooked in recent decades. This paper explores one such response by developing a character called the Pragmatic Skeptic. The Pragmatic Skeptic accepts skeptical arguments for the claim that we lack good evidence for our ordinary beliefs, and that they do not constitute knowledge. However, they do not think we should give up our beliefs in light of these skeptical conclusions. Rather, we should retain them, since we have good practical reasons for doing so. This (...)
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  3. Religious Moral Languages, Secularity, and Hermeneutical Injustice.Gorazd Andrejč - 2020 - In Dennis Vanden Auweele & Miklos Vassanyi (eds.), Past and Present Political Theology: Expanding the Canon. London, UK:
    As a philosophical approach to public moral discourse in a religiously plural society, Jeffrey Stout’s “modest pragmatism” has received a mixed response from the opposite sides of the secularism debate. While many political theologians and communitarians claim that Stout concedes too much to the secularists, some secularists, on the other hand, find Stout’s inclusive approach towards religious reasonings in public discourse all too “theological.” This essay offers a re-examination and a further analysis of modest pragmatism in the light of recent (...)
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  4. What Does the Happy Life Require? Augustine on What the Summum Bonum Includes.Caleb Cohoe - 2020 - Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 8:1-41.
    Many critics of religion insist that believing in a future life makes us less able to value our present activities and distracts us from accomplishing good in this world. In Augustine's case, this gets things backwards. It is while Augustine seeks to achieve happiness in this life that he is detached from suffering and dismissive of the body. Once Augustine comes to believe happiness is only attainable once the whole city of God is triumphant, he is able to compassionately engage (...)
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  5. Pragmatism as a Way of Life: The Lasting Legacy of William James and John Dewey by Hilary Putnam and Ruth Anna Putnam.Brandon Daniel-Hughes - 2020 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 41 (1):96-98.
    David Macarthur has assembled not only a fascinating collection of essays from Hilary Putnam and Ruth Anna Putnam that spans two decades but also a collection that makes a compelling series of arguments about what pragmatism has been, is, and may yet become. This is all the more impressive since it weaves together the voices of two scholars who shared both an intellectual commitment and a life. As a longtime admirer of Hilary Putnam’s work, I was excited to take a (...)
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  6. Believing Without Evidence: Pragmatic Arguments for Religious Belief in Life of Pi.Alberto Oya - 2020 - In Adam T. Bogard (ed.), Critical Insights: Life of Pi. New Jersey, USA: pp. 136-147.
    The aim of this essay is to show that Yann Martel’s Life of Pi can be read as illustrating what philosophers usually name as pragmatic arguments for religious belief. Ultimately, this seems to be the reason why, in the short prologue that accompanies the novel, Martel claims Life of Pi to be “a story to make you believe in God”. To put it briefly, these arguments claim that even conceding that the question of whether to believe that God exists or (...)
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  7. Unamuno and James on Religious Faith.Alberto Oya - 2020 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):85-104.
    The aim of this paper is to argue against the received view among Unamuno scholars that Miguel de Unamuno was defending a sort of pragmatic argument for religious faith and that his notion of religious faith as “querer creer” (“wanting to believe”) is to be identified with William James’s “the will to believe”. As I will show in this paper, one of the aspects that makes Unamuno’s reasoning philosophically relevant is his ability to formulate a non-pragmatist defense of religious faith (...)
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  8. Praying the Ultimate: The Pragmatic Core of Neville's Philosophical Theology.Michael L. Raposa - 2020 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 40 (3):49-64.
    During a time period spanning from 2013 to 2015, Robert Neville published the three volumes of his magnum opus on Philosophical Theology, selected aspects of which will be the main focus of my attention in this essay.1 Rather than hover at ten thousand feet and try to provide a broad overview or a bare sketch of Neville's thought as he developed it there, I have decided to take the plunge, to focus my attention more narrowly on specific issues, while trying (...)
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  9. By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them: Robert C. Neville's Semiotic and Pragmatic Theory of Religious Truth.David Rohr - 2020 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 40 (3):31-48.
    C. S. Peirce claimed that the pragmatic method of clarifying ideas is "nothing but a particular application of an older logical rule, 'By their fruits ye shall know them.'"1 While Jesus spoke about discriminating between true and false religious teachers, Peirce was concerned with clarifying our intellectual concepts. Peirce's pragmatism asserts that we clearly understand the meaning of a concept if we can state the potentially practical and empirical consequences that would follow from the truth of a proposition involving that (...)
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  10. A new name for some old ways of thinking: pragmatism, radical empiricism, and epistemology in W.E.B. Du Bois’s “Of the Sorrow Songs”.Walter Scott Stepanenko - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 87 (2):173-192.
    When William James published Pragmatism, he gave it a subtitle: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking. In this article, I argue that pragmatism is an epistemological method for articulating success in, and between, a plurality of practices, and that this articulation helped James develop radical empiricism. I contend that this pluralistic philosophical methodology is evident in James’s approach to philosophy of religion, and that this method is also exemplified in the work of one of James’s most famous (...)
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  11. Toward a Pragmatist Metaethics by Diana D. Heney.Jerome A. Stone - 2020 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 41 (1):93-96.
    This closely reasoned philosophical study develops two metaethical positions: a pragmatist view of truth in ethics and a pragmatist view of principles in moral inquiry. To reach these notions Heney gives a close reading of Peirce, James, Dewey, and C. I. Lewis. In the process she engages with current debates in ethical theory.Heney makes a strong case for the importance of metaethics, the inquiry into the meaning of and justification for ethical terms and propositions. She focuses on the primacy of (...)
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  12. Review of Daniel-Hughes Pragmatic Inquiry and Religious Communities: Charles Peirce, Signs, and Inhabited Experiments, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. [REVIEW]Roger Ward - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 12 (1):201.
  13. “The Rejection of Radical-Foundationalism and -Skepticism: Pragmatic Belief in God in Eliezer Berkovits’s Thought”.Nadav Berman, S. - 2019 - Journal of the Goldstein-Goren International Center for Jewish Thought 1 (2019):201-246.
    Faith has many aspects. One of them is whether absolute logical proof for God’s existence is a prerequisite for the proper establishment and individual acceptance of a religious system. The treatment of this question, examined here in the Jewish context of Rabbi Prof. Eliezer Berkovits, has been strongly influenced in the modern era by the radical foundationalism and radical skepticism of Descartes, who rooted in the Western mind the notion that religion and religious issues are “all or nothing” questions. Cartesianism, (...)
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  14. Equal Treatment for Belief.Susanna Rinard - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1923-1950.
    This paper proposes that the question “What should I believe?” is to be answered in the same way as the question “What should I do?,” a view I call Equal Treatment. After clarifying the relevant sense of “should,” I point out advantages that Equal Treatment has over both simple and subtle evidentialist alternatives, including versions that distinguish what one should believe from what one should get oneself to believe. I then discuss views on which there is a distinctively epistemic sense (...)
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  15. How Can Human Symbols Represent God? A Critique of and Constructive Alternative to Robert C. Neville's Account of “Indexical” Theological Truth.David Rohr - 2019 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 40 (2):73.
    Charles S. Peirce’s semeiotic—his theory about signs, reference, interpretation, meaning, and communication—is applicable with illuminating results to innumerable processes of semeiosis or sign interpretation. Robert C. Neville is the first deep student of Peirce’s semeiotic to have systematically applied that theory to the analysis and theory of theological signs, interpretation, and truth—hereafter, theological semeiotic. The result is easily the deepest and richest theological semeiotic currently available. Being the best, it is also most worthy of critique. In this essay, I argue (...)
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  16. Gabriel Marcel and American Philosophy: The Religious Dimension of Experience by David W. Rodick.Dwayne A. Tunstall - 2019 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 40 (1):75-79.
    In Gabriel Marcel and American Philosophy, David W. Rodick investigates Gabriel Marcel's relationship to classical American philosophy—more specifically, to Josiah Royce's idealism, William James's radical empiricism, William Ernest Hocking's empiricism, and Henry G. Bugbee's experiential naturalism—to provide Marcel scholars and scholars of classical American philosophy with a fruitful perspective for understanding Marcel's thought. He also seeks to capture Marcel's dynamic and concrete approach to philosophizing along with examining its "relevance to the contemporary world—a world in which philosophy, confined to the (...)
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  17. Plutarch's Epicurean Justification of Religious Belief.Jason W. Carter - 2018 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 56 (3):385-412.
    In his dialogue, 'Non posse suaviter vivi secundum Epicurum', Plutarch of Chaeronea criticizes Epicurus for not believing that the gods are provident over human affairs and for not believing that our souls survive death. However, Plutarch’s arguments are striking in that they do not offer any theoretical justification for believing either of these religious claims to be true; rather, they aim to establish that we are practically justified in adopting them if we follow Epicurus’s rule that the goal of belief (...)
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  18. Can Fictionalists Have Faith?Finlay Malcolm - 2018 - Religious Studies 54 (2):215-232.
    According to non-doxastic theories of propositional faith, belief that p is not necessary for faith that p. Rather, propositional faith merely requires a ‘positive cognitive attitude’. This broad condition, however, can be satisfied by several pragmatic approaches to a domain, including fictionalism. This paper shows precisely how fictionalists can have faith given non-doxastic theory, and explains why this is problematic. It then explores one means of separating the two theories, in virtue of the fact that the truth of the propositions (...)
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  19. Wagering on an Ironic God: Pascal on Faith and Philosophy by Thomas S. Hibbs. [REVIEW]Graham Oppy - 2018 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 56 (2):372-373.
    This is a short review of Thomas S. Hibbs' book: *Wagering on an Ironic God: Pascal on Faith and Philosophy*.
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  20. W. K. Clifford and William James on Doxastic Norms.Alberto Oya - 2018 - Comprendre 20 (2):61-77.
    The main aim of this paper is to explain and analyze the debate between W. K. Clifford ("The Ethics of Belief", 1877) and William James ("The Will to Believe", 1896). Given that the main assumption shared by Clifford and James in this debate is doxastic voluntarism –i.e., the claim that we can, at least in some occasions, willingly decide what to believe–, I will explain the arguments offered by Bernard Williams in his “Deciding to Believe” (1973) against doxastic voluntarism. Finally, (...)
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  21. Michael Rota, Taking Pascal’s Wager: Faith, Evidence, and the Abundant Life. [REVIEW]Michael T. McFall - 2017 - Teaching Philosophy 40 (1):116-119.
  22. El argumento vertebrador del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida, de Miguel de Unamuno.Alberto Oya - 2017 - Daimon: Revista Internacional de Filosofía (70):199-207.
    En su Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida, Miguel de Unamuno argumenta que necesitamos creer en Dios y que esta necesidad es suficiente para justificar la adopción de la creencia religiosa. El objetivo de este artículo es reconstruir y analizar el argumento de Miguel de Unamuno, el cual constituye, sin lugar a dudas, el eje vertebrador del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida. En este artículo, defenderé: primero, que el argumento no puede usarse para justificar la adopción de la creencia religiosa; segundo, (...)
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  23. No Exception for Belief.Susanna Rinard - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (1):121-143.
    This paper defends a principle I call Equal Treatment, according to which the rationality of a belief is determined in precisely the same way as the rationality of any other state. For example, if wearing a raincoat is rational just in case doing so maximizes expected value, then believing some proposition P is rational just in case doing so maximizes expected value. This contrasts with the popular view that the rationality of belief is determined by evidential support. It also contrasts (...)
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  24. Introducció. El debat entre W. K. Clifford i William James.Alberto Oya - 2016 - Quaderns de Filosofia i Ciència (2):123-127.
    In this paper I comment on the debate between W. K. Clifford ("The Ethics of Belief", 1877) and William James ("The Will to Believe", 1896). I argue that both authors assume doxastic voluntarism -i.e., the claim that we can, at least in some occasions, willingly decide what to believe- and I argue that doxastic voluntarism is unacceptable.
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  25. What Is Mormon Transhumanism?Lincoln Cannon - 2015 - Theology and Science 13 (2):202-218.
    Mormon transhumanism is the idea that humanity should learn how to be compassionate creators. This idea is essential to Mormonism, which provides a religious framework consistent with naturalism and supportive of human transformation. Mormon transhumanists are not limited to traditional or popular accounts of religion, and embrace opportunities and risks of technological evolution. Although usually considered secular, transhumanism has some religious origins and sometimes functions as religion. Accelerating change contextualizes a Mormon transhumanist narrative of common expectations, aspirations, and parallels between (...)
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  26. Review of The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief. By Joseph Hinman. [REVIEW]Lantz Fleming Miller - 2014 - Studies in Religion 43 (3):529-531.
    The ongoing debates about what rationality consists in remain unsettled and leave plenty of interpretation for what is rational in belief formation and action. Hinman risks a large step in seeming to assume that it is rational not to contravene scientific theories and findings and irrational to disallow this openness. These -- possibilities lending a potential for deistic beliefs not to be inconsistent with rationality. The presumed scientific approach to allowing a rationality in such belief revolves around the development of (...)
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  27. Religion and Secular Utility: Happiness, Truth, and Pragmatic Arguments for Theistic Belief.Craig Duncan - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (4):381-399.
    This article explores “pragmatic arguments” for theistic belief – that is, arguments for believing in God that appeal, not to evidence in favor of God’s existence, but rather to alleged practical benefits that come from belief in God. Central to this exploration is a consideration of Jeff Jordan’s recent defense of “the Jamesian wager,” which portrays itself as building on the case for belief presented in William James’s essay “The Will to Believe.” According to Jordan, religious belief creates significant gains (...)
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  28. Pragmatic Encroachment, Religious Belief and Practice.Aaron Rizzieri - 2013 - Palgrave MacMillan.
    Pragmatic Encroachment, Religious Belief and Practice engages several recent and important discussions in the mainstream epistemological literature surrounding 'pragmatic encroachment'. It has been argued that what is at stake for a person in regards to acting as if a proposition is true can raise the levels of epistemic support required to know that proposition. Do the high stakes involved in accepting or rejecting religious beliefs raise the standards for knowledge that 'God exists', 'Jesus rose from the dead' and other propositions? (...)
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  29. Existential Reasons for Belief in God: A Defense of Desires and Emotions for Faith.Clifford Williams - 2011 - Downers Grove, IL, USA: IVP Academic.
    An exposition and defense of an existential argument for believing in God.
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  30. Religious Ambiguity, Agnosticism, and Prudence.Randolph M. Feezell - 2009 - Florida Philosophical Review 9 (2):90 - 120.
    Pascal’s famous pragmatic argument for belief in God is plagued by a number of well-known problems, not the least of which is related to the claim that significant benefits may arise when we acquire a certain set of religious beliefs. But it is reasonable to hold a wide range of conflicting beliefs about the existence of God, the nature and supposed purposes of divine reality, and other related metaphysical claims. If it is not clear what claims are true about God, (...)
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  31. A Pascal-Type Justification of Faith in a Scientific Age.Arthur Falk - 2005 - Philosophy 80 (4):543-563.
    The author argues that faith survives as a rational option, despite science rendering improbable distinctively theological claims about the world and history. After rejecting justifications of faith from natural theology and natural law, he defends a seemingly weaker strategy, a corrected version of Pascal's wager argument. The wager lets one's desires count toward showing one's faith to be rational, and the faith requires that oneÕs desires undergo radical transformation to protect the faith, making the wager argument really quite strong. As (...)
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  32. The Decision of Faith: Can Christian Beliefs Be Freely Chosen?Kevin Kinghorn - 2005 - T & T Clark.
    Christian theologians have historically described a 'saving faith in God' as containing a fundamental element of 'belief'. However, philosophers present strong arguments exist that we are not capable of freely deciding which beliefs we will hold. Rather, we simply find ourselves believing things as the evidence before us seems to dictate. So, if belief is indeed involuntary, and if certain beliefs are requisite for Christian faith, then how can the matter of one's salvation rest on whether one has freely put (...)
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  33. Vernünftiges und vernünftig Vermutetes zu Gehirn, Geist und Gott.Paul Gottlob Layer - 2005 - In Wolfgang Achtner, Hermann Düringer, Hubert Meisinger & Wolf-Rüdiger Schmidt (eds.), Gott - Geist - Gehirn. Religiöse Erfahrungen im Lichte der neuesten Hirnforschung. Frankfurt a.M., Germany: Haag + Herchen Verlag. pp. 134-161.
    Anlaß zum vorliegenden Artikel gab eine Tagung zum Thema „Gott-Geist-Gehirn“, bei der im Dialog zwischen Theologen und Neurowissenschaftlern Beziehungen zwischen diesen drei Begriffen diskutiert wurden. Aus biologischer Sicht sind es vor allem Hirnleistungen, welche uns spezifisch zum Menschen machen. Die Entstehung der Hirnstrukturen während der Embryonal- und Postnatalperiode wird im ersten Teil behandelt, deren Verständnis essentiell ist. Im zweiten Teil werden physiologische Fähigkeiten des menschlichen Gehirns am Beispiel des visuellen Systems in sehr verkürzter Weise dargestellt, um zu untersuchen, inwieweit physiologische (...)
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  34. A PHILOSOPHICAL ENQUIRY INTO THE SCANDAL OF EVIL AND SUFFERING.Edvard Kristian Foshaugen - 2004 - Baptis Journal South Africa (q):q.
    In 1 Peter 1:3-7 we read that the Christians were facing persecution because of their faith and the author reminds them that every trial is a test of their faith. The trials and consequential suffering can be withstood because they are able to look forward to an inheritance – eternal life with God. Christians can endure all trials and suffering because of the hope of glory and ultimate joy. There is a grace afforded by God in the presence to match (...)
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  35. Gale on a Pragmatic Argument for Religious Belief.Philip L. Quinn - 2003 - Philo 6 (1):59-66.
    This paper is a study of a pragmatic argument for belief in the existence of God constructed and criticized by Richard Gale. The argument’s conclusion is that religious belief is morally permissible under certain circumstances. Gale contends that this moral permission is defeated in the circumstances in question both because it violates the principle of universalizability and because belief produces an evil that outweighs the good it promotes. My counterargument tries to show that neither of the reasons invoked by Gale (...)
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  36. Going Beyond James: A Pragmatic Argument for God's Existence. [REVIEW]L. Stafford Betty - 2001 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 49 (2):69-84.
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  37. Prudential Arguments, Naturalized Epistemology, and the Will to Believe.Henry Jackman - 1999 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 35 (1):1 - 37.
    This paper argues that treating James' "The Will to Believe" as a defense of prudential reasoning about belief seriously misrepresents it. Rather than being a precursor to current defenses of prudential arguments, James paper has, if anything, more affinities to certain prominent strains in contemporary naturalized epistemology.
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  38. Christian Witness in the 21 Century - Incarnantional Engaged Approach.Edvard Kristian Foshaugen - 1997 - Dissertation, Free State University
    Research for this study was served by the hypothesis that the Christian’s lifestyle and witness in a postmodern world will depend on the definition and practice of worship and spirituality. The Old Testament reveals a spirituality that has ‘Yahweh’ involved in all aspects of life. Awareness and experience of the presence of God is linked to obedience to God. New Testament spirituality implies imitation of Christ and an effort to obey Christ's twofold command: to love God and neighbor as self. (...)
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  39. Hume's Pragmaticist Argument for the Reality of God.Hermann Deuser & Dennis Beach - 1995 - Journal of Speculative Philosophy 9 (1):1 - 13.
    The author examines Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion to discover a variant of the usual teleological argument that abandons reliance on analogical reasoning. This second version, never refuted in the Dialogues, is termed "pragmaticist" in Peirce's sense. It relies on an abductive hypothesis that claims not logical proof but the power of instinctual conviction. The Dialogues' espousal of sound common sense may then be viewed as an imperfectly articulated precursor of Peirce's pragmaticist argument for the reality rather than the existence (...)
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