Alexander Klein


Cal State Long Beach

Hypothetical Reasoning and “The Will to Believe”

“The Will to Believe” is supposed to have been a flashpoint in a dispute between William James and Charles Sanders Peirce over the epistemic importance of emotion (e.g., Misak 2013, 60). Peirce is supposed to have read that essay as arguing that whatever one finds personally satisfying is ipso facto true (Misak 2013, 63). Peirce allegedly renamed his own position “pragmaticism” in response, choosing a word “ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers”—kidnappers like James, commentators typically assume (Howells 1977, 452, Carus 1911, 36).