Odyssey: Conduct, Character, and Context: Debating the Ethics of Belief

Our country is said to be deeply divided. Opinions differ widely, while attempts to debate them frequently degenerate into unproductive abuse. Are we all entitled to hold our various views? To remove this question, initially at least, from the maelstrom of contemporary controversy, we will approach it through the opposing views of two 19th-century figures, William Clifford and William James. We will first consider the climate of thought in which they formulated their views. Next, we will weigh Clifford's claim that it is wrong to believe anything on insufficient evidence. In a third meeting we consider James' competing defense of our right to believe at least some important hypotheses with our hearts in advance of our heads. And, finally, we will assess the extent to which the arguments and issues raised in Clifford's and James' debate, have purchase in our own day.

910.787.01 Homewood campus Wednesday, March 1 to 22, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Cost: $96 (4 sessions)

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