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Sophia

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 587–588 | Cite as

Review of Scott F. Aikin, Evidentialism and the Will to Believe

Bloomsbury, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-6235-6017-1, hb, x + 214pp.
  • Raphael Lataster
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Scott Aikin offers a much-needed comprehensive treatment of the Clifford-James debate on the ethics of belief. He aims to present the core arguments of William Clifford’s The Ethics of Belief and William James’ The Will to Believeand to provide commentary (p. 4). Aikin begins by discussing Clifford’s ship owner case (pp. 13–22). Knowing that his ship is old, poorly built, and often needs repairs, the ship owner chooses to ignore the evidence and instead focuses on the character of the ship-builders and his feeling that providence will protect the passengers. As a consequence, the ship owner believes that all will be well. All is not well, and many innocents lose their lives. By overlooking the evidence and believing that less relevant factors rendered the decision to set sail a sound one, the ship owner has committed a crime. Had the ship safely completed its journey, the ship owner is still guilty, as lives were still endangered and only luck prevented a disaster. Commenting on...

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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