Ethics 129 (2):175-203 (2018)
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Many of our most important goals require months or even years of effort to achieve, and some never get achieved at all. As social psychologists have lately emphasized, success in pursuing such goals requires the capacity for perseverance, or "grit." Philosophers have had little to say about grit, however, insofar as it differs from more familiar notions of willpower or continence. This leaves us ill-equipped to assess the social and moral implications of promoting grit. We propose that grit has an important epistemic component, in that failures of perseverance are often caused by a significant loss of confidence that one will succeed if one continues to try. Correspondingly, successful exercises of grit often involve a kind of epistemic resilience in the face of failure, injury, rejection, and other setbacks that constitute genuine evidence that success is not forthcoming. Given this, we discuss whether and to what extent displays of grit can be epistemically as well as practically rational. We conclude that they can be (although many are not), and that the rationality of grit will depend partly on features of the context the agent normally finds herself in. In particular, grit-friendly norms of deliberation might be irrational to use in contexts of severe material scarcity or oppression.

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Author Profiles

Jennifer M. Morton
University of Pennsylvania
Sarah Paul
New York University, Abu Dhabi

Citations of this work

Can Pragmatists Be Moderate?Alex Worsnip - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3):531-558.
Faith: Contemporary Perspectives.Elizabeth Jackson - 2023 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Impermissive Bayesianism.Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2013 - Erkenntnis 79 (Suppl 6):1185-1217.
A new argument for evidentialism.Nishi Shah - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (225):481–498.
Evidence Can Be Permissive.Thomas Kelly - 2013 - In Matthias Steup & John Turri (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Blackwell. pp. 298.

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