Take a Leap of Faith

Wed, Oct 12

Maybe having good beliefs means sometimes believing even when there is not enough evidence either way? In this session we will consider whether we have control over our beliefs and whether it is ever a good idea to believe something before the evidence has come in. We will take a close look at William James's pragmatic defense of "leaps of faith" when it comes to choosing forms of life. 

We have three main learning goals for this day. You will:

  1. Understand the relationship between belief and the will, contrasting doxastic voluntarism with doxastic involuntarism
  2. Compare James's approach to faith and doubt with Pascal's pragmatism and Descartes' foundationalism
  3. Explain what is meant by the "ethics of belief" and identify James's three criteria for an ethical "leap of faith"
  4. Defend your own position on the question of whether pragmatic arguments for truth are rational or responsible.

Read This:

Prof. Blaschko's students should read this: Interactive Essay: The Will to Believe (William James)

Prof. Christy's students should read and annotate this same text via Perusall.

Do This:

Prof. Blaschko's students: Read and annotate the short "Application Article" on Perusall.

Prof. Christy's students: Read the short "Application Article" on Perusall.

All students: After you've finished today's reading, make sure you complete the reading quiz, which you can access through your section's Canvas page.

Watch This: