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Aching over Aikin’s False Dilemma in James’s Justification for Faith in “The Will to Believe”

In attempting to situate and understand William James’s “The Will to Believe” (1896), it is important to both attempt (as best we can) to understand the historical realities that inform this text as well as the argument internal to it. In Scott Aikin’s “A Dilemma for James’s Justification for Faith”, Aikin engages mostly with the latter and then again superficially. It’s for this reason that I have decided to respond to the lack of appropriate hermeneutic sensitivity to Aikin’s treatment of James’s Will to Believe argument. This essay, then, has two overall aims united in purpose. A proper historical treatment will show why Aikin is wrong to argue that internal to James’s “The Will to Believe” essay James fails to meet his own standard along the dilemma Aikin posits. Instead, Aikin’s dilemma is a false dilemma.

J. Edward Hackett
Savannah State University
United States


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