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William James's \"The Will to Believe\" and the Ethics of Self-experimentation

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • William James's \"The Will to Believe\" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of suggesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics continue to charge that James s defense of belief in what he called the \"religious hypothesis\" confuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs - not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of abandoning them. I argue that James's position in \"The Will to Believe\" can be defended provided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data (including wants, needs, and desires) are relevant to rational consent to participation in research.

  • Date created
    2006
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3K35MV0Q
  • License
    © 2006 Indiana University Press. This article was published as \"Jennifer Welchman. William James's \"The Will to Believe\" and the Ethics of Self-experimentation. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society Vol. 42, No. 2 (Spring, 2006), pp. 229-241.\" No part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Indiana University Press. For education reuse, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center <http://www.copyright.com/>. For all other permissions, contact IU Press at <http://iupress.indiana.edu/rights/>.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Welchman, J. (2006). William James's \"The Will to Believe\" and the Ethics of Self-experimentation. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 42(2), 229-241. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40321125
  • Link to related item
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/40321125