The Ethics Of Beliefs By William James

846 Words Apr 27th, 2016 4 Pages
Belief can be best described as confidence in the truth. Throughout the centuries, philosophers have argued over support for religious beliefs. Some, like W.K. Clifford, claim that beliefs need evidence and reason behind them. Others, like William James, would offer a philosophical justification for religious faith, and would argue against evidence and reason behind beliefs. After reading both sides of the argument, I lean towards James’s philosophical justification the most due to the fact that I too would argue against evidence and reason behind beliefs.
In W.K. Clifford’s, The Ethics of Beliefs, he argues for evidentialism. Evidentialism is described as the view that we should not accept a particular claim as true unless we have good evidence for it (Clifford 359). According to Clifford, it is wrong to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. Evidence comes before belief which comes before action. He uses the example of a ship-owner that let his actions be guided by his beliefs which had no sufficient evidence. Clifford describes the ship-owner’s feelings as, “Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy”, however, “He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose she would not come safely home from this trip also” (359). The ship ended up sinking killing everyone on board and leaving the ship-owner to blame. Clifford says that even if the ship did not sink the…
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