Explaining Higher-order Defeat

Acta Analytica 38 (3):453-469 (2023)
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Abstract

Higher-order evidence appears to have the ability to defeat rational belief. It is not obvious, however, why exactly the defeat happens. In this paper, I consider two competing explanations of higher-order defeat: the “Objective Higher-Order Defeat Explanation” and the “Subjective Higher-Order Defat Explanation.” According to the former explanation, possessing sufficiently strong higher-order evidence to indicate that one’s belief about p fails to be rational is necessary and sufficient for defeating one’s belief about p. I argue that this type of explanation is defective or at best collapses into the other type of explanation. According to the latter explanation, Believing that one’s belief about p fails to be rational (in response to higher-order evidence about p) is necessary and sufficient for defeating one’s belief about p. I argue that this type of explanation is better suited to explain higher-order defeat given that what one is rational to believe partly depends on the relations among one’s doxastic attitudes. Finally, I address an peculiar feature of the Subjective Higher-Order Defeat Explanation: higher-order defeat becomes contingent on one’s response to the higher-order evidence.

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Marco Tiozzo
University of Gothenburg

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References found in this work

Rationality Through Reasoning.John Broome (ed.) - 2013 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
The Importance of Being Rational.Errol Lord - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Reflection and disagreement.Adam Elga - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):478–502.
Higher‐Order Evidence and the Limits of Defeat.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):314-345.

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