Advertisement

Sophia

pp 1–9 | Cite as

On the Will Not to Believe and Axiological Atheism: a Reply to Cockayne and Warman

  • Kirk LougheedEmail author
Article

Abstract

In a recent article in Sophia, Joshua Cockayne and Jack Warman (2019) defend a view they call supra-evidential atheistic fideism. This is the idea that considerations similar to William James’s defence of theistic belief can be used to justify atheistic belief. If an individual evaluates the evidence for atheism and theism as roughly the same (i.e. either can be epistemically rational), then she can rationally believe in atheism if her passions lean in that direction, provided the belief in atheism is forced, live and momentous. After outlining their defence of atheistic fideism, I offer some friendly amendments to their position. Cockayne and Warman claim that when the existential question of God’s existence is undecided for someone, she is rational to let her passions answer the existential question. This is a version of Rowe’s friendly atheism because it can explain the existence of religious disagreement, even in cases where an atheist and theist give the same assessment of the evidence for God’s (non)existence; they disagree at the passional level, not at the evidential level. I argue for a different version of friendly atheism: a mere passion need not settle the existential question about God when the evidence cannot decide it. For one might be rational in preferring that God not exist if God’s existence would make things worse. For certain individuals, this is reason enough to accept and act as if atheism is true, even if it is not epistemically rational to believe that it’s true.

Keywords

James Will to believe Passional reasons Friendly atheism Axiology of theism 

Notes

References

  1. Cockayne, J., & Warman, J. (2019). The will not to believe. Sophia, 58(3), 511–523.Google Scholar
  2. James, W. (2000/1897). The will to believe. In G. Gunn (Ed.), Pragmatism and other writings (pp. 198–219). London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  3. Kahane, G. (2011). Should we want God to exist?. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 82(3), 674–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kraay, K. J. (2018). Invitation to the axiology of theism. In K. J. Kraay (Ed.), Does God matter? Essays on the axiological consequences of theism. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lougheed, K. (2017). Anti-theism and the objective meaningful life argument. Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, 56(2), 337–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Nagel, T. (1997). The last word. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Penner, M. A. (2015). Personal anti-theism and the meaningful life argument. Faith and Philosophy, 32(3), 325–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Penner, M. A. (2018). On the objective meaningful life argument: a reply to Kirk Lougheed. Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, 57(1), 173–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Schellenberg, J. L. (2018). Triple transcendence, the value of God's existence, and a new route to atheism. In K. J. Kraay (Ed.), Does God matter? Essays on the axiological consequences of theism. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

Personalised recommendations