The Will Not to Believe

Sophia 58 (3):511-523 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Is it permissible to believe that God does not exist if the evidence is inconclusive? In this paper, we give a new argument in support of atheistic belief modelled on William James’s The Will to Believe. According to James, if the evidence for a proposition, p, is ambiguous, and believing that p is a genuine option, then it can be permissible to let your passions decide. Typically, James’s argument has been used as a defence of passionally caused theistic belief. However, in the existing literature, little attention has been given to topic of passionally caused atheistic belief. Here, we give much needed attention to the issue of how areligious passions can justify atheistic belief. Following James, we argue that if atheism is a genuine option for an agent, it is permissible to believe that God does not exist based on her hopes, desires, wishes, or whatever passions incline her to disbelieve. After defending the coherence of passionally caused atheism, we go on to suggest why this position is a tenable one for the atheist to adopt.

Similar books and articles

Common Worship.Joshua Cockayne & David Efird - 2018 - Faith and Philosophy 35 (3):299-325.
The naked self: Kierkegaard and personal identity. [REVIEW]Joshua Cockayne - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (2):422-425.
Struggling with God: Kierkegaard and the Temptation of Spiritual Trial.Joshua Cockayne - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (2):388-390.
Søren Kierkegaard: subjectivity, irony, and the crisis of modernity. [REVIEW]Joshua Cockayne - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (4):844-847.
Paul K. Moser, The God Relationship. The Ethics for Inquiry about the Divine.Joshua Cockayne - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (3):230-234.
Communal Knowledge and the Beatific Vision.Joshua Cockayne - 2018 - TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology 2 (2).
Prayer as God-knowledge.Joshua Cockayne - 2017 - Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 2017 (1):101-114.
Common Worship.Joshua Cockayne & David Efird - 2018 - Faith and Philosophy 35 (3):299-325.

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-12-07

Downloads
209 (#61,264)

6 months
42 (#32,141)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Jack Warman
Universidad de La Frontera
Joshua Cockayne
University of St. Andrews

References found in this work

The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
On What There Is.W. V. O. Quine - 1948 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 221-233.
The Last Word.Thomas Nagel - 1997 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.William L. Rowe - 1979 - American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (4):335 - 341.

View all 24 references / Add more references