Defeating pragmatic encroachment?

Matthew McGrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper examines the prospects of a prima facie attractive response to Fantl and McGrath's argument for pragmatic encroachment. The response concedes that if one knows a proposition to be true then that proposition is warranted enough for one to have it as a reason for action. But it denies pragmatic encroachment, insofar as it denies that whether one knows a proposition to be true can vary with the practical stakes, holding fixed strength of warrant. This paper explores two ways to allow knowledge-reason links without pragmatic encroachment, both of which appeal to defeat. The first appeals to defeaters of reasons. If you know the bank is open tomorrow, what you know is available as a reason, but it may be defeated by considerations concerning the stakes. The second appeals to defeaters which do not defeat reasons but which nonetheless do something similar: they make the action recommended by those reasons vicious. In a high stakes case performing the "risky" action would be vicious even if it is justified in the sense of being supported by undefeated reasons. What is defeated is a virtue-based epistemic status rather than reasons or justification. I argue that neither proposal halts the march from a knowledge-reason link to pragmatic encroachment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3051–3064
Number of pages14
Issue number7
Early online date15 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Pragmatic encroachment
  • Knowledge
  • Practical reasons
  • Defeaters
  • Exclusionary reasons
  • Epistemic virtue
  • Joseph Raz
  • Maria Lasonen-Aarnio


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