Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD student in Comparative Philosophy, Allameh Tabatabai University

2 Professor of Philosophy at Allameh Tabatabai University


Against evidentialists’ views, especially Clifford’s, William James has presented his views about the effect of will on belief. According to Clifford, for everyone, always and everywhere, it is wrong to accept a belief without sufficient evidences. William James, in contrast, believes that instead fear of error, which is the Clifford’s way to apply ethics on belief, it is better to think getting to truth. He attempts to show that this view is the justifier of religious beliefs, in the way that people, regardless to evidentialism, consider themselves right in their believing in religious beliefs. James' views in the article ‘will to believe’ is established on pragmatism, ethics and psychology. He believed ‘will’ impacts beliefs both in their creation and in their control. James's psychological point of view is dealt with belief creation and his ethical view is concerned with belief control. There are some criticisms against James’ viewpoint; based on one of them, his attitude relativizes the value of faith. Adding two conditions to James’ approach and turning it into an externalist theory to justify religious beliefs, Bishop tries to solve the problem. Evaluating the James’ approach, this paper aims to study the Bishop’s solution.