The ethical theory of William James
Enteman, Willard F.
MetadataShow full item record
The problem for this thesis is primarily to determine if an ethical theory can be constructed for William James and, incidentally, to determine what relationship it bears to the rest of his philosophy. If the ethical theory is to be constructed, it must give some account for the place of reason in ethical decisions as well as some account of basic ethical principles. It is essential to deal with the problem of the place of reason in James's ethical theory before presenting the basic principles of his ethical theory because the solution of it makes the argument for the basic principles meaningful. James arrives at the conclusion that reason is limited. In criticizing the contrary position, which he calls intellectualism, James says that there are two epistemological maxims: know truth and avoid error. The latter, if strictly obeyed, might tend to turn one away from the truth needlessly, when it is within his grasp. James's final criticism of intellectualism is that it relies for its own foundation upon something more than reason. Intellectualism can only be asserted on the grounds of faith or volitional nature. Scepticism is criticized in the same manner by James. Scepticism is merely one act of the volitional nature laying down the law over all other acts of the volitional nature and saying that they are improper. Finally, James must exercise his own volitional nature in going beyond reason [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
RightsBased on investigation of the BU Libraries' staff, this work is free of known copyright restrictions.