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Pragmatism with PurposeSelected Writings$
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Peter Hare, Joseph Palencik, Douglas Anderson, and Steven A. Miller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264322

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264322.001.0001

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The Right and Duty to Will to Believe

The Right and Duty to Will to Believe

Chapter:
(p.31) One The Right and Duty to Will to Believe
Source:
Pragmatism with Purpose
Author(s):

Peter Kauber

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823264322.003.0001

This chapter examines the right and duty to will to believe, with particular emphasis on William James's work to show how a more robust ethics of belief is possible. At various points in the development of James's ethics of belief, we encounter such expressions as “duty to believe,” “will to believe,” and “right to believe.” Many commentators have suggested that the expressions “duty to believe” and “will to believe” were retracted by James, under the critical assault of his contemporaries. This chapter rejects that notion and suggests that there are in fact good Jamesian arguments for the retention of the expressions “duty to believe” and “will to believe.” It also discusses the implications of keeping the notions named by these expressions for overbelief. Finally, it proposes a terminology for use in future considerations both of James's ethics of belief and of the ethics of belief more generally.

Keywords:   will to believe, William James, ethics of belief, duty to believe, right to believe, overbelief

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