William James Theory Of Belief Essay

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William James argued that under the right conditions it is legitimate to will to believe in something even without evidence to support it. The only reason not to will to believe something would be if there is evidence provided against it. He also claimed that one cannot be criticized for forming these beliefs (James, Part 5). This claim, by James, is incorrect. One, instead, should be able to criticize the beliefs of others. James is correct in claiming that one should use their will when forming certain beliefs; but contrary to what he thinks, this process does not lead to the maximization of true beliefs. Preconceptions heavily influence what one wills to believe. If these preconceptions are tainted by false knowledge, formation of new true beliefs becomes difficult. James’ theory would be effective at creating many new beliefs but his process does not emphasize the creation of true beliefs, as he desires. Without criticizing and discussing beliefs James’s idea of maximizing true beliefs is not accomplished.
William James was a radical empiricist (James, Preface). He says “‘radical’ because it treats the doctrine of monism itself as a hypothesis, and, unlike so much of the half-way empiricism that is current” (James, Preface). James believed that there are multiple true experiences of a singular reality. He believes there is no firm single truth that can explain the world in a one-to-one
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If James’s theory was accepted, this would lead to ignorance and will hinder the maximization of true beliefs. Preconceptions heavily influence what one wills to believe. If these preconceptions are tainted by false knowledge, formation of new beliefs becomes difficult and can result in more truths being ignored. Without criticizing and discussing beliefs James’s idea of maximizing true beliefs is not

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