The metaethics of belief: An expressivist reading of "the will to believe"

Social Epistemology 20 (1):1 – 17 (2006)
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Abstract

We argue that an expressivist interpretation of "The Will to Believe" provides a fruitful way of understanding this widely-read but perplexing document. James approaches questions about our intellectual obligations from two quite different standpoints. He first defends an expressivist interpretation of judgments of intellectual obligation; they are "only expressions of our passional life". Only then does James argue against evidentialism, and both his criticisms of Clifford and his defense of a more flexible ethics of belief presuppose this independently-defended expressivism. James puts forward his ethics of belief as healthy or appropriate, rather than as correct.

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Jeff Kasser
Colorado State University

Citations of this work

The Ethics of Belief.Andrew Chignell - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Science, Religion, and “The Will to Believe".Alexander Klein - 2015 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (1):72-117.
Expressivism, Moral Judgment, and Disagreement: A Jamesian Program.Scott Aikin & Michael Hodges - 2018 - Journal of Speculative Philosophy 32 (4):628-656.

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