Reconciling Enkrasia and Higher-Order Defeat

Erkenntnis 84 (6):1369-1386 (2019)
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Titelbaum Oxford studies in epistemology, 2015) has recently argued that the Enkratic Principle is incompatible with the view that rational belief is sensitive to higher-order defeat. That is to say, if it cannot be rational to have akratic beliefs of the form “p, but I shouldn’t believe that p,” then rational beliefs cannot be defeated by higher-order evidence, which indicates that they are irrational. In this paper, I distinguish two ways of understanding Titelbaum’s argument, and argue that neither version is sound. The first version can be shown to rest on a subtle, but crucial, misconstrual of the Enkratic Principle. The second version can be resisted through careful consideration of cases of higher-order defeat. The upshot is that proponents of the Enkratic Principle are free to maintain that rational belief is sensitive to higher-order defeat.

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Mattias Skipper
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences


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