Epistemic Akrasia, Higher-order Evidence, and Charitable Belief Attribution

in International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
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Epistemic akrasia refers to the possibility of forming an attitude that fails to conform to one’s best judgment. In this paper, I will be concerned with the question whether epistemic akrasia is rational and I will argue that it is not. Addressing this question, in turn, raises the question of the epistemic significance of higher-order evidence. After examining some of the views on this subject, I will present an argument to show why higher-order evidence is relevant to the epistemic status of the pertinent first-order beliefs. This helps to show why a standard argument for the rationality of epistemic akrasia does not work. Finally, I shall try to show how considerations involving Davidson’s theory of radical interpretation bear on the question of the rationality of epistemic akrasia.

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1

 See, for example, Hurley (1989), Adler (1999), and (with some qualifications) Owens (2002).

2

The general idea is due to Levy (2004). See also Ribeiro (2011).

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