James and the Justification Norm of Belief and Action
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Our focus in this chapter is on defending a justification norm for practical reasoning (treat p as a reason for action only if you are justified that p) against the William James–inspired claim that there are widespread circumstances in which it is proper for a subject s to believe and act as if God exists even though s lacks sufficient (i.e. knowledge-level) evidence that God exists. However, my end is not to undermine religious commitment. Rather, it is to reveal why acting on one’s mere hope that God exists is an epistemically, morally, and prudentially superior path for a mature and reflective person with strong religious inclinations whose evidence renders the probability of God’s existence either counterbalanced or inscrutable.
KeywordsReligious Belief Knowledge Norm Epistemic Justification Spiritual Life Doxastic Attitude
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