Dispossessing Defeat

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (2):323-340 (2020)
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Higher‐order evidence can make an agent doubt the reliability of her reasoning. When this happens, it seems rational for the agent to adopt a cautious attitude towards her original conclusion, even in cases where the higher‐order evidence is misleading and the agent's original reasons were actually perfectly good. One may think that recoiling to a cautious attitude in the face of misleading self‐doubt involves a failure to properly respond to one's reasons. My aim is to show that this is not so. My proposal is that (misleading) higher‐order evidence can undermine the agent's possession of her first‐order reasons, constituting what I call a dispossessing defeater. After acquiring the higher‐order evidence, the agent is no longer in a position to rely competently on the relevant first‐order considerations as reasons for her original conclusion, so that such reasons stop being available to her (even if they remain as strong as in the absence of the higher‐order evidence). In this way, an agent with misleading higher‐order evidence can adopt a cautious stance towards her original conclusion, while properly responding to the set of reasons that she possesses–a set that is reduced due to the acquisition of higher‐order dispossessing defeaters.

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Javier González De Prado Salas
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia

Citations of this work

Higher-Order Evidence.Daniel Whiting - 2021 - Analysis 80 (4):789-807.
Pro tem rationality.Julia Staffel - 2021 - Philosophical Perspectives 35 (1):383-403.
Basic knowledge and the normativity of knowledge: The awareness‐first solution.Paul Silva - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (3):564-586.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Ethics without principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge in an uncertain world.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Matthew McGrath.
Elusive knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.

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