A Non-Doxastic Fear of Hell : On the Impact of Negative Factors for an Agnostic Religious Commitment

Religions (forthcoming)
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On the standard view, an agnostic might commit non-doxastically to religion because she wants to receive some goods, which might be either natural or supernatural in kind. I broaden the picture by showing how the agnostic must also take negative factors into account. Negative mundane factors should be avoided as far as possible by the agnostic, and in extreme cases, even at the price of giving up supernatural goods. Negative supernatural factors, like eternal torment, work differently. An agnostic who considers an eternity of suffering in hell a live possibility might rationally make a religious commitment in order to avoid it. Non-doxastic religion is commonly conceived as requiring a pro-attitude. If fear can have the impact I suggest, we must broaden the picture to allow for a negatively based commitment as well. To make explicit the kind of attitude relevant here, I offer an analysis of fear as a rational, non-doxastic attitude.



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