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Unformatted text preview: William James The Right to Believe I. Cliffordian Evidentialism: It is wrong always, everywhere, for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. Beliefs are guilty until proven innocent. II. James Epistemic Permissibility Principle We are permitted to believe h (some hypothesis) in the absence of evidence just if (a) the intellect cannot resolve the issue of the truth of h (or its negation) and (b) h presents us with a genuine option, a decision between two hypotheses that is (i) Living (vs. Dead) : both hypotheses are live; they both strike us as real possibilities, as plausible; otherwise, the hypotheses are dead. E.g., be a Republican or be a Democrat (live); be a believer in Santa Claus or a believer in the Easter Bunny. (dead). (ii) Momentous (vs. Trivial) : the choice between the two hypotheses involves a unique, significant, or not easily reversible consequence; otherwise it is trivial. E.g., join me today on an archeological dig in Iraq or stay at home and swim in your pool (momentous); believe that Pluto is a planet or believe that...
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This note was uploaded on 11/04/2011 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Delevati during the Fall '08 term at S.F. State.
- Fall '08