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Is Grit Irrational for Akratic Agents?

Radoilska, Lubomira V. (2023) Is Grit Irrational for Akratic Agents? In: Evans, N.H. and Mckearney, P., eds. Against Better Judgment: Akrasia in Anthropological Perspective. Berghahn Books, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-80539-000-8. E-ISBN 978-1-80539-001-5. (KAR id:91906)

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Contemporary analytic philosophers tend to see akrasia, or acting against one’s better judgement, as a problem of motivation. On this standard view, akratic actions are paradoxical since akratic agents know that they have a better alternative but nevertheless take up the worse, akratic option. In other words, akratic agents know what they are doing. They do not make any epistemic mistakes but – inexplicably – engage in behaviours that they correctly identify as wrong. The thought that akratic agents are not flawed as inquirers and knowers but only as agents plays a key role in turning akrasia into a textbook example of motivational only, or practical irrationality.

This paper will aim to revise the standard view by emphasizing the epistemic dimensions of phenomenon, that is, the ways in which akrasia affects both how agents understand their own involvement and how they handle evidence about their prospects of success. The ambition is to show that akratic agents typically rationalise their akrasia. They do not recognise it as paradoxical or irrational. Instead, they reinterpret it as separate goal-directed actions undertaken under conditions that are not ideal for them. This rationalisation of akrasia is closely related to another epistemically deficient habit: akratic agents pay too much heed to evidence that they are unlikely to succeed. In so doing, they display too little of what philosophers have described as ‘epistemic resilience’, or more simply, ‘grit’.

Item Type: Book section
Projects: Epistemic Injustice, reasons and agency
Uncontrolled keywords: akrasia, grit, epistemic dimension, irrationality, motivation, reason
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Department of Philosophy
Funders: British Academy (
Depositing User: Lubomira Radoilska
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2021 10:13 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2023 10:28 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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