Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-pxgks Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-11T15:14:35.964Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

A Dilemma for Higher-Level Suspension

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 April 2022



Is it ever rational to suspend judgment about whether a particular doxastic attitude of ours is rational? An agent who suspends about whether her attitude is rational has serious doubts that it is. These doubts place a special burden on the agent, namely, to justify maintaining her chosen attitude over others. A dilemma arises. Providing justification for maintaining the chosen attitude would commit the agent to considering the attitude rational—contrary to her suspension on the matter. Alternatively, in the absence of such justification, the attitude would be arbitrary by the agent's own lights, and therefore irrational from the agent's own perspective. So, suspending about whether an attitude of ours is rational does not cohere with considering it rationally preferable to other attitudes, and leads to a more familiar form of epistemic akrasia otherwise.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Philosophical Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Special thanks for feedback on this project go to Sara Aronowitz, Lisa Benossi, Sven Bernecker, Sofia Bokros, Jennifer Rose Carr, Anna-Maria A. Eder, Thomas Grundman, Giulia Napolitano, Francesco Praolini, Luis Rosa, Mattias Skipper, Paul Silva, and Elise Woodward.


Armstrong, D. M. (1963) ‘Is Introspective Knowledge Incorrigible?’ Philosophical Review, 72, 417–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Basu, Rima. (2019) ‘What We Epistemically Owe to Each Other’. Philosophical Studies, 176, 915931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bergmann, Michael. (2005) ‘Defeaters and Higher-Level Requirements’. Philosophical Quarterly, 55, 419436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boghossian, Paul. (2008) ‘Epistemic Rules’. Journal of Philosophy, 105, 472500.Google Scholar
Buchak, Lara. (2014) ‘Rational Faith and Justified Belief’. In Callahan, Laura Frances and O'Connor, Timothy (eds.), Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 4973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chisholm, Roderick M. (1989) Theory of Knowledge. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
Christensen, David. (2007) ‘Epistemology of Disagreement: The Good News’. Philosophical Review, 116, 187217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Christensen, David. (2009). ‘Disagreement as Evidence: The Epistemology of Controversy’. Philosophy Compass, 4, 756–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Christensen, David. (2013). ‘Epistemic Modesty Defended’. In Christensen, David and Lackey, Jennifer (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 7797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Christensen, David. (2016). ‘Disagreement, Drugs, etc.: From Accuracy to Akrasia’. Episteme, 13, 397422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cohen, Stewart. (2013) ‘A Defense of the (Almost) Equal Weight View’. In Christensen, David and Lackey, Jennifer (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 98120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Crawford, Sean. (2004) ‘A Solution for Russellians to a Puzzle about Belief’. Analysis, 64, 223–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dorst, Kevin. (2020) ‘Evidence: A Guide for the Uncertain’. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 100, 586632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dutant, Julien, and Littlejohn, Clayton. (2016) ‘Just Do It? When to Do What You Judge You Ought to Do’. Synthese, 195, 3855–772.Google Scholar
Feldman, Richard. (2006) ‘Epistemological Puzzles about Disagreement’. In Hetherington, Stephen (ed.), Epistemology Futures (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 216–36.Google Scholar
Feldman, Richard. (2007) ‘Reasonable Religious Disagreements’. In Antony, Louise M. (ed.), Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 194214.Google Scholar
Friedman, Jane. (2017) ‘Why Suspend Judging?’. Noûs, 51, 302–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gardiner, Georgi. (2018) ‘Evidentialism and Moral Encroachment’. In McCain, Kevin (ed.), Believing in Accordance with the Evidence: New Essays on Evidentialism (New York: Springer), 169–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greco, Daniel. (2014) ‘A Puzzle about Epistemic Akrasia’. Philosophical Studies, 167, 201–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hájek, Alan. (1998) ‘Agnosticism Meets Bayesianism’. Analysis, 58, 199206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hazlett, Allan. (2012) ‘Higher-Order Epistemic Attitudes and Intellectual Humility. Episteme, 9, 205–23.Google Scholar
Horowitz, Sophie. (2014) ‘Epistemic Akrasia’. Noûs, 48, 718–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huemer, Michael. (2011) ‘The Puzzle of Metacoherence’. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 82, 121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jackson, Elizabeth. (2020) ‘Belief, Credence, and Evidence’. Synthese, 197, 5073–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Joyce, James M. (2010) ‘A Defense of Imprecise Credences in Inference and Decision Making’. Philosophical Perspectives, 24, 281323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kiesewetter, Benjamin. (2016). ‘You Ought to ϕ Only if You May Believe That You Ought to ϕ’. Philosophical Quarterly, 66, 760–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lasonen-Aarnio, Maria. (2020) ‘Enkrasia or Evidentialism? Learning to Love Mismatch’. Philosophical Studies, 177, 597632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moss, Sarah. (2018) ‘Moral Encroachment’. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 118, 177205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Raleigh, Thomas. (2021) ‘Suspending is Believing’. Synthese, 198, 2449–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rosenkranz, Sven. (2007) ‘Agnosticism as a Third Stance’. Mind, 116, 55104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schechter, Joshua. (2013) ‘Rational Self-Doubt and the Failure of Closure’. Philosophical Studies, 163, 429–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schoenfield, Miriam. (2015) ‘A Dilemma for Calibrationism’. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 91, 425–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skipper, Mattias. (2021) ‘Does Rationality Require Higher-Order Certainty’. Synthese, 198, 11561–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smithies, Declan. (2012) ‘Moore's Paradox and the Accessibility of Justification’. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 85, 273300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smithies, Declan. (2015). ‘Ideal Rationality and Logical Omniscience’. Synthese, 192, 2769–793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Staffel, Julia. (2015) ‘Beliefs, Buses, and Lotteries: Why Rational Belief Can't Be Stably High Credence’. Philosophical Studies, 173, 1721–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sturgeon, Scott. (2010) ‘Confidence and Coarse-Grained Attitudes’. In Gendler, Tamar Szabó and Hawthorne, John (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology. vol. 3 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 126–49.Google Scholar
Titelbaum, Michael. (2015) ‘Rationality's Fixed Point (Or: In Defense of Right Reason)’. In Gendler, Tamar Szabó and Hawthorne, John (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology, vol. 5 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 253–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Turri, John (2012) ‘A Puzzle about Withholding’. Philosophical Quarterly, 62, 355–64.Google Scholar
Weatherson, Brian. (2019) Normative Externalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Worsnip, Alex. (2018) ‘The Conflict of Evidence and Coherence’. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 96, 344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar