Indexed on: 03 Dec '18Published on: 28 Nov '18Published in: Philosophical Studies
I formulate a resilient paradox about epistemic rationality, discuss and reject various solutions, and sketch a way out. The paradox exemplifies a tension between a wide range of views of epistemic justification, on the one hand, and enkratic requirements on rationality, on the other. According to the enkratic requirements, certain mismatched doxastic states are irrational, such as believing p, while believing that it is irrational for one to believe p. I focus on an evidentialist view of justification on which a doxastic state regarding a proposition p is epistemically rational or justified just in case it tracks the degree to which one’s evidence supports p. If it is possible to have certain kinds of misleading evidence (as I argue it is), then evidentialism and the enkratic requirements come into conflict. Yet, both have been defended as platitudinous. After discussing and rejecting three solutions, I sketch an account that rejects the enkratic requirements, while nevertheless explaining our sense that epistemic akrasia is a distinct kind of epistemic failure. Central to the account is distinguishing between two evaluative perspectives, one having to do with the relevant kind of success (proportioning one’s doxastic states to the evidence), the other having to do with manifesting good dispositions. The problem with akratic subjects, I argue, is that they manifest dispositions to fail to correctly respond to a special class of conclusive and conspicuous reasons.