This paper reconsiders the case of William James’s « will to believe », often taken to be only as a defense of the legitimacy of religious faith against such free-believers as William Clifford. It shows that the will to believe has no necessary relation with theism as it is only a very general method to solve philosophical dilemmas. This method is conceived to be applicable to every kind of topics where such dilemmas occur, such as the traditional antinomy between freedom and determinism. The main stake of this interpretation is to defend the general idea that pragmatism at large should primarily be understood not as a doctrine but as a method and even as an attitude. The virtue of such an understanding is to enable us to correct the doctrines of past pragmatists when they seem to contravene the pragmatist attitude. This paper ends up by presenting such a revision, as it claims pragmatist reasons for favoring an atheistic conclusion from the application of the will to believe-method.
Keywords: William James, Will to Believe, Pragmatism, atheism, philosophical method, freedom.