Hope as a Source of Grit

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8 (33):264-287 (2022)
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Psychologists and philosophers have argued that the capacity for perseverance or “grit” depends both on willpower and on a kind of epistemic resilience. But can a form of hopefulness in one’s future success also constitute a source of grit? I argue that substantial practical hopefulness, as a hope to bring about a desired outcome through exercises of one’s agency, can serve as a distinctive ground for the capacity for perseverance. Gritty agents’ “practical hope” centrally involves an attention-fuelled, risk-inclined weighting of two competing concerns over action: when facing the decision of whether to persevere, hopeful gritty agents prioritize the aim of choosing a course of action which might go very well over that of choosing a course of action which is very likely to go fairly well. By relying on the notion of a “risk-inclined attentional pattern” as a dimension of gritty agents’ practical hope, we can explain that form of hope’s contribution to their motivation and practical rationality, especially on a risk-weighted expected utility framework. The upshot is a more pluralistic view of the sources of grit.

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Catherine Rioux
Université Laval


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