William James

Pragmatic Voluntarism:   “The Will to Believe”


I. Basic Terminology of Pragmatic Voluntarism:


A. Hypothesis – any proposition proposed as a possible belief –


1. Live Hypothesis – a belief that appeals to the hearer


2. Dead Hypothesis – a belief that does not appeal to the hearer


B. Option – the choice between hypotheses –


1. Living/Dead


2. Forced/Avoidable


3. Momentous/Trivial


4. Genuine – a living, forced, and momentous option


II. Decision Theory


A. How we make decisions:


1. Rational – many decisions can be made based on rational grounds appealing to …


a. Empirical evidence


b. Analytical evidence


2. Passional – We can Will to believe in cases where


a. a hypothesis is rationally indeterminable, and


b. we are presented with a genuine option



B. Options for Passional Decision Making:


1.Dead Option:



2. Live Option: