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Publication - Professor Richard Pettigrew

    Jamesian epistemology formalised

    An explication of 'The Will to Believe'


    Pettigrew, R, 2016, ‘Jamesian epistemology formalised: An explication of 'The Will to Believe'’. Episteme, vol 13., pp. 253-268


    Famously, William James held that there are two commandments that govern our epistemic life: Believe truth! Shun error! In this paper, I give a formal account of James' claim using the tools of epistemic utility theory. I begin by giving the account for categorical doxastic states-that is, full belief, full disbelief, and suspension of judgment. Then I will show how the account plays out for graded doxastic states-that is, credences. The latter part of the paper thus answers a question left open in Pettigrew (2014).

    Full details in the University publications repository