Aikin, Scott. Evidentialism and the Will to Believe (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). The book is due to come out in July. Here's the blurb:
Work on the norms of belief in epistemology regularly starts with two touchstone essays: W.K. Clifford's "The Ethics of Belief" and William James's "The Will to Believe." Discussing the central themes from these seminal essays, Evidentialism and the Will to Believe explores the history of the ideas governing evidentialism.As well as Clifford's argument from the examples of the shipowner, the consequences of credulity and his defence against skepticism, this book tackles James's conditions for a genuine option and the structure of the will to believe case as a counter-example to Clifford's evidentialism. Exploring the question of whether James's case successfully counters Clifford's evidentialist rule for belief, this study captures the debate between those who hold that one should proportion belief to evidence and those who hold that the evidentialist norm is too restrictive.More than a sustained explication of the essays, it also surveys recent epistemological arguments to evidentialism. But it is by bringing Clifford and James into fruitful conversation for the first time that this study presents a clearer history of the issues and provides an important reconstruction of the notion of evidence in contemporary epistemology.
And here's the table of contents:
Introduction1. The objectives of commentary2. Three themes3. Five evaluative thesesChapter 1: Reading Clifford’s “The Ethics of Belief”William Kingdon Clifford and the Metaphysical SocietySection I – The Duty of Inquiry1. The ship owner case2. The island case3. Beliefs and actions4. Beliefs and their consequences5. Ethics and belief6. Endorsing evidentialismSection II – The Weight of Authority1. Anti-skepticism2. Testimonial evidence3. Miraculous testimony4. The publicity requirement5. The sacred tradition of humanitySection III – The Limits of Inference1. A burnt child dreads the fire2. Regulative principles3. Three normsChapter 2: Reading James’s “The Will to Believe”William James and “The Will to Believe”PreambleSection I – Hypotheses and Options1. Introduction and definitions2. Live and dead options3. Forced options4. Momentous options5. Religion as a genuine optionSection II – Pascal’s Wager1. Four stages of “The Will to Believe”2. Voluntarism and its limits3. The wager4. Clifford’s vetoSection III – Psychological Causes of Belief1. A concession to evidentialism2. Truth and other useful ideas3. Pascal is a regular clincherSection IV – The Thesis of the Essay1. A thematic transition2. The thesisSections V and VI – Absolutism and Empiricism1. Two forms of faith2. Objective evidence and its discontents3. Truth for EmpricismSection VII – Two Different Sorts of Risks in Believing1. The two commandments2. The case for the Truth Norm3. Two critical pointsSection VIII – Some Risk Unavoidable1. Applying the meta-epistemology2. Interested inquiry3. Two analogiesSection IX – Faith May Bring Forth Its Own Verification1. Moral and scientific questions2. Moral skepticism3. The argument from friendship4. The argument from social coordination5. Doxastic efficacy and the will-to-believeSection X – Logical Conditions of Religious Belief1. The overall form of James’s argument2. Religion’s dual essence3. Religion as live and momentous4. Religion as forced5. The conversion fallacy6. Religion as doxastically efficacious7. Evidentialism as irrational8. Religious toleranceChapter 3: The Ethics of Belief and Philosophy of ReligionQuestion 1: Must evidentialism be an ethical doctrine?Question 2: Can practical reasons trump theoretical reasons?Question 3: Can religion be pragmatically reconstructed?Question 4: What about the power of positive thinking?BibliographyIndex