W. K. Clifford and William James on Doxastic Norms

Comprendre 20 (2):61-77 (2018)
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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, I will explain what happens with the debate between Clifford and James once we accept Bernard Williams’s arguments and refuse to accept doxastic voluntarism.
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Deciding to Believe.Williams, Bernard
Pensées.Pascal, Blaise
The Will to Believe.James, William
The Ethics of Belief.Clifford, William

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