Problems for virtue theories in epistemology

Philosophical Studies 138 (2):169 - 191 (2008)
This paper identifies and criticizes certain fundamental commitments of virtue theories in epistemology. A basic question for virtues approaches is whether they represent a ‘third force’––a different source of normativity to internalism and externalism. Virtues approaches so-conceived are opposed. It is argued that virtues theories offer us nothing that can unify the internalist and externalist sub-components of their preferred success-state. Claims that character can unify a virtues-based axiology are overturned. Problems with the pluralism of virtues theories are identified––problems with pluralism and the nature of the self; and problems with pluralism and the goals of epistemology. Moral objections to virtue theory are identified––specifically, both the idea that there can be a radical axiological priority to character and the anti-enlightenment tendencies in virtues approaches. Finally, some strengths to virtue theory are conceded, while the role of epistemic luck is identified as an important topic for future work.
Keywords Virtue Epistemology  Epistemic Internalism  Epistemic Externalism  Epistemic Pluralism  Virtue Theory
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DOI 10.2307/40208867
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Linda Zagzebski (1999). ``What Is Knowledge?". In John Greco & Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell

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