Abstract for “Defending Epistemic Akraisa” – Rachel Fraser

Contemporary epistemologists worry a lot about what sort of relationship there ought to be between our first order attitudes and our higher-order attitudes (see Horowitz, 2013, Lasonan-Aarnio, 2014 Littlejohn, forthcoming, Wedgewood, 2011, Williamson, 2009 etc). These worries have been discussed in a number of guises: using the rubric of epistemic akrasia (can it be rational to believe that P whilst rationally believing that you ought not to believe that P?) improbable knowing (might I know that P whilst it is very improbable on my evidence that I know that P?) (Williamson), and higher-order defeat It would, I think, be a mistake to run all these ways of talking together – the connections between rationality, knowledge, and defeasibility are not obvious, and are certainly not uncontested. Nevertheless, we can draw a rough distinction between pictures that countenance dissonance between our first and higher order attitudes, and integrationist epistemologies: those that demand harmony. The project of this paper is to make trouble for the integrationist by looking in detail at one artefact of the integrationist picture: that of higher-order defeat. I argue that there profound and structural problems embedded in talk of higher-order defeat.