Plan B

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (3):550-564 (2022)
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Abstract

We sometimes strive to achieve difficult goals when our evidence suggests that success is unlikely – not just because it will require strength of will, but because we are targets of prejudice and discrimination or because success will require unusual ability. Optimism about one’s prospects can be useful for persevering in these cases. That said, excessive optimism can be dangerous; when our evidence is unfavourable, we should be at most agnostic about whether we will succeed. This paper explores the nature and rational significance of agnostic practical commitments. Most importantly, the rationality of striving against the odds can depend on investing in a plan for failure: a plan B. I aim to make headway on an account of what backup plans are, how they are related to primary plans, and whether the standard norms of plan rationality apply to our agnostic commitments.

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Author's Profile

Sarah Paul
New York University, Abu Dhabi

Citations of this work

Knowledge, practical knowledge, and intentional action.Joshua Shepherd & J. Adam Carter - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9:556-583.
Hope: A Solution to the Puzzle of Difficult Action.Catherine Rioux - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Resisting Pessimism Traps: The Limits of Believing in Oneself.Jennifer M. Morton - 2021 - Wiley: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (3):728-746.
Self‐Esteem: On the Form of Self‐Worth Worth Having.Jessica Isserow - 2023 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 104 (4):686-719.
Trust and Contingency Plans.Lee-Ann Chae - 2022 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 52 (7):689-699.

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References found in this work

Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57:321-332.
Grit.Sarah K. Paul & Jennifer M. Morton - 2018 - Ethics 129 (2):175-203.
Practical knowledge.Kieran Setiya - 2008 - Ethics 118 (3):388-409.

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