he Ethics of Belief Part 1: The Duty of Inquiry
1. Believing on insufficient evidence is irrational, and being irrational is immoral. (Clifford’s view)
2. Believing on insufficient evidence is irrational, but being irrational is not immoral.
3. Believing on insufficient evidence is not irrational. Rational beliefs need not be supported by evidence.
What this means for belief in God:
If you accept Clifford’s Evidentialism, then:
If there are good reasons to believe in God, you should believe
If there are good reasons to disbelieve, you should disbelieve
If there are no good arguments for or against religious belief, you ought to be agnostic
Clifford thinks there are no good arguments; he was agnostic
Some theists deny evidentialism: (Fideists)
They may hold that there are no good arguments for or against God, but believe as a matter of faith
They may hold that there are good arguments for God, but these aren’t necessary because belief is based
James on the Will to Believe
Our passional nature not only may, but must, decide an option between propositions whenever it is a
genuine option that can’t by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds .
What’s a “genuine option”? Some definitions:
Option = the decision between two hypotheses
Hypothesis = anything proposed to our belief
Live = appeals as a real possibility to whom it is