When to Believe Upon Insufficient Evidence: Three Criteria

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
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It seems to me that many of our deepest, most cherished, and most stalwart beliefs lack epistemic justification and yet I think we have the right to hold many of these beliefs. In this paper, I will discuss what I will call salutary beliefs and distinguish them from epistemically justified beliefs. Next, I will discuss under what conditions it is proper for us to hold salutary beliefs, and finally, I will argue, that despite the fact that they lack epistemic justification, we may be as entitled to holding some salutary beliefs (some religious beliefs included) as we are to holding epistemically justified ones.

  • Clifford William . 1874. “The Ethics of Belief,” from Lectures and Essays, reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, Third Edition, ed. by Rowe William L. and Wainwright William J. . (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) pp. 456461.

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  • James William . 1902. The Varieties of Religious Experiences . New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

  • Kierkegaard Soren . 1847. Works of Love , ed. and translated by Hong and Hong. Princeton, nj: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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