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The will not to believe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Joshua Cockayne, Jack Warman

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Is it permissible to believe that God does not exist if the evidence is inconclusive? In this paper, we give a new argument in support of atheistic belief modelled on William James’s The Will to Believe. According to James, if the evidence for a proposition, p, is ambiguous, and believing that p is a genuine option, then it can be permissible to let your passions decide. Typically, James’s argument has been used as a defence of passionally caused theistic belief. However, in the existing literature, little attention has been given to topic of passionally caused atheistic belief. Here, we give much needed attention to the issue of how areligious passions can justify atheistic belief. Following James, we argue that if atheism is a genuine option for an agent, it is permissible to believe that God does not exist based on her hopes, desires, wishes, or whatever passions incline her to disbelieve. After defending the coherence of passionally caused atheism, we go on to suggest why this position is a tenable one for the atheist to adopt.
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-523
JournalSophia
Volume58
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

    Research areas

  • Atheism, Belief, Evidence, Fideism, James

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