Faith, Belief, and Will: Toward a Volitional Stance Theory of Faith
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The point of departure of this paper is a conception of faith that is broader than traditional conceptions on which it is essentially doxastic. On the theory presupposed here, neither propositional faith (faith that) nor attitudinal faith (faith in) entails belief. Faith is also irreducible to hope, though it is not without some kinship to it. More positively, on the view presented here, faith entails a set of positive attitudes of a certain kind. This positive element makes it natural to consider faith a kind of stance toward its object. That conception, in turn, indicates the presence of volitional elements in faith. With these points in view, the paper pursues in detail the kinds of volitional elements that are essential in faith or, at least, characteristic of certain major kinds of faith. The conception of faith as a kind of volitional stance helps to explain both the importance of faith—secular as well as religious—in human life and the resilience of faith in the encounter with counterevidence.