Abstract: The aim of this essay is to test the claim that epistemologists—virtue epistemologists in particular—have much to learn from virtue ethics. The essay begins with an outline of virtue ethics itself. This section concludes that a pure form of virtue ethics is likely to be unattractive, so the virtue epistemologist should examine the "impure" views of real philosophers. Aristotle is usually held up as the paradigm virtue ethicist. His doctrine of the mean is (...) described, and it is explained how that doctrine can provide a framework for an account of epistemic virtue. The conclusion of the essay is that a virtueepistemology based on analogies with virtue ethics, though well worth developing and considering, will face several challenges in fulfilling the significant promises that have been made on its behalf. (shrink)
Abstract Do the central aims of epistemology, like those of moral philosophy, require that we designate some important place for those concepts located between the thin-normative and the non-normative? Put another way, does epistemology need ?thick? evaluative concepts? There are inveterate traditions in analytic epistemology which, having legitimized a certain way of viewing the nature and scope of epistemology's subject matter, give this question a negative verdict; further, they have carried with them a tacit commitment to (...) what we argue to be an epistemic analogue of the reductionistic centralist thesis that Bernard Williams in our view successfully challenged in ethics. In this essay, we challenge these traditional dogmas and in doing so align ourselves with what has been recently called the ?Value Turn? in epistemology. From this perspective, we defend that, contrary to tradition, epistemology does need thick evaluative concepts. Further, the sort of theories that will be able to give thick evaluative concepts a deservedly central role in both belief and agent evaluation are those non-centralist projects that fall within what we call the second-wave of virtueepistemology. We recognize that, in breaking from centralism, there is a worry that a resulting anti-centralist theory will be reductionistic in the other direction- making the thick primary. We contend however that second-wave virtue epistemologies should be thought to provide the wave of the right thickness, and as such, constitute the most promising approaches within a field that has become increasingly more normative, diverse and expansive than was the traditional set of problems from which it emerged. (shrink)
Standard characterizations of virtueepistemology divide the field into two camps: virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism. Virtue reliabilists think of intellectual virtues as reliable cognitive faculties or abilities, while virtue responsibilists conceive of them as good intellectual character traits. I argue that responsibilist character virtues sometimes satisfy the conditions of a reliabilist conception of intellectual virtue, and that consequently virtue reliabilists, and reliabilists in general, must pay closer attention to matters of intellectual (...) character. This leads to several new questions and (...) challenges for any reliabilist epistemology. (shrink)
Thomas Nagel has proposed that the existence of moral luck mandates a general attitude of skepticism in ethics. One popular way of arguing against Nagels claim is to insist that the phenomenon of moral luck itself is an illusion , in the sense that situations in which it seems to occur may be plausibly re-described so as to show that agents need not be held responsible for the unlucky outcomes of their actions. Here I argue that this strategy for explaining (...) away moral luck fails because it does not take account of the fact that agents in morally unlucky circumstances are uniformly subject to a very specific type of epistemic obligation. I then proceed to sketch out an alternative strategy for blocking the inference to skepticism, one that makes use of the distinctive explanatory resources provided by epistemic virtue theory. Key Words: moral luck moral skepticism Thomas Nagel virtueepistemology Linda Zagzebski. (shrink)
In a number of recent papers Duncan Pritchard argues that virtueepistemology's central ability condition—one knows that p if and only if one has attained cognitive success (true belief) because of the exercise of intellectual ability—is neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge. This paper discusses and dismisses a number of responses to Pritchard's objections and develops a new way of defending virtueepistemology against them.
The recent movement towards virtue–theoretic treatments of epistemological concepts can be understood in terms of the desire to eliminate epistemic luck. Significantly, however, it is argued that the two main varieties of virtueepistemology are responding to different types of epistemic luck. In particular, whilst proponents of reliabilism–based virtue theories have been focusing on the problem of what I call “veritic” epistemic luck, non–reliabilism–based virtue theories have instead been concerned with a very different type of (...) epistemic luck, what I call “reflective” epistemic luck. It is argued that, prima facie at least, both forms of epistemic luck need to be responded to by any adequate epistemological theory. The problem, however, is that one can best eliminate veritic epistemic luck by adducing a so–called safety–based epistemological theory that need not be allied to a virtue–based account, and there is no fully adequate way of eliminating reflective epistemic luck. I thus conclude that this raises a fundamental difficulty for virtue–based epistemological theories, on either construal. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]. (shrink)
VirtueEpistemology is a new movement receiving the bulk of recent attention from top epistemologists and ethicists; this volume reflects the best work in that vein. Included are unpublished articles by such eminent philosophers as Robert Audi, Simon Blackburn, Alvin Goldman, Christopher Hookway, Keith Lehrer, and Ernest Sosa.
Robust VirtueEpistemology (RVE) maintains that knowledge is achieved just when an agent gets to the truth through, or because of, the manifestation of intellectual virtue or ability. A notorious objection to the view is that the satisfaction of the virtue condition will be insufficient to ensure the safety of the target belief; that is, RVE is no anti-luck epistemology. Some of the most promising recent attempts to get around this problem are considered and shown (...) to ultimately fail. Finally, a new proposal for defending RVE as a kind of anti-luck epistemology is defended. The view developed here turns importantly on the idea that knowledge depends on ability and luck in a way that is gradient, not rigid, and that we know just when our cognitive success depends on ability not rather, but more so, than luck. (shrink)
A strong, strictly virtue- based , and at the same time truth-centered framework for virtueepistemology (VE) is proposed that bases VE upon a clearly motivating epistemic virtue, inquisitiveness or curiosity in a very wide sense, characterizes the purely executive capacities-virtues as a means for the truth-goal set by the former, and, finally, situates the remaining, partly motivating and partly executive virtues in relation to this central stock of virtues. Character-trait epistemic virtues are presented as hybrids, (...) partly moral, partly purely epistemic. In order to make the approach virtue- based , it is argued that the central virtue (inquisitiveness or curiosity) is responsible for the value of truth: truth is valuable to cognizers because they are inquisitive, and most other virtues are a means for satisfying inquisitiveness. On can usefully combine this virtue-based account of the motivation for acquiring knowledge with a Sosa-style analysis of the concept “knowledge”, which brings to the forefront virtues-capacities, in order to obtain a full-blooded, “strong” VE. (shrink)
Duhem’s concept of “good sense” is central to his philosophy of science, given that it is what allows scientist to decide between competing theories. Scientists must use good sense and have intellectual and moral virtues in order to be neutral arbiters of scientific theories, especially when choosing between empirically adequate theories. I discuss the parallels in Duhem’s views to those of virtue epistemologists, who understand justified belief as that arrived at by a cognitive agent with intellectual and moral virtues, (...) showing how consideration of Duhem as a virtue epistemologist offers insights into his views, as well as providing possible answers to some puzzles about virtueepistemology. The extent to which Duhem holds that the intellectual and moral virtues of the scientist determine scientific knowledge has not been generally noticed. (shrink)
A Review of S. Napiers, book VirtueEpistemology. While concerned with the nature of knowledge, Napier also wants to claim that a key implication of responsibilist VE is “a shift away from analyzing epistemic concepts (knowledge, etc.) in terms of other epistemic concepts (e.g. justification) to analyzing epistemic concepts with reference to kinds of human activity…much of analytic epistemology centers on epistemic concepts, whereas the responsibilist focuses on epistemic activity” (144).Of the main points he claims responsibilism provides (...) us with—(i) rentention of the idea that a person who knows is personally justified in the sense of is rational, justified, or intellectually good, (ii) a sound account of the value of knowledge, and (iii) a Gettier-proof theory of knowledge —I pose some questions about the first and third. (shrink)
Virtueepistemology is faced with the challenge of establishing the degree to which a knower’s cognitive success is attributable to her cognitive ability. As Duncan Pritchard notes, in some cases one is inclined to a strong version of virtueepistemology, one that requires cognitive success to be because of the exercise of the relevant cognitive abilities. In other cases, a weak version of virtueepistemology seems preferable, where cognitive success need only be the product (...) of cognitive ability. Pritchard’s preference, with his anti-luck virtueepistemology, is for the latter. But as Christoph Kelp has recently argued, this preference is not without controversy. Notably, Kelp argues that Pritchard on the basis of his anti-luck virtueepistemology is impelled to cast the wrong judgment in a case that Pritchard himself discusses many times in his writings, the so-called ‘Temp case’. Though Pritchard argues that Temp lacks knowledge because his cognitive success is not a result of his cognitive ability, I concur with Kelp that Pritchard’s epistemology should in fact attribute knowledge to Temp, and show this by locating weaknesses in three distinct arguments Pritchard uses to show that Temp lacks knowledge. I subsequently argue that if Pritchard wishes to persist in denying knowledge to Temp, he should endorse what I call the ‘true description’ requirement. I close the paper by providing an argument for this requirement, controversial though it is. (shrink)
The recent literature on ad hominem argument contends that the speaker’s character is sometimes relevant to evaluating what she says. This effort to redeem ad hominems requires an analysis of character that explains why and how character is relevant. I argue that virtueepistemology supplies this analysis. Three sorts of ad hominems that attack the speaker’s intellectual character are legitimate. They attack a speaker’s: (1) possession of reliabilist vices; or (2) possession of responsibilist vices; or (3) failure to (...) perform intellectually virtuous acts. Legitimate ad hominems conclude that we should not believe what a speaker says solely on her say-so. (shrink)
I argue that Duncan Pritchard’s anti-luck virtueepistemology is insufficient for knowledge. I show that Pritchard fails to achieve the aim that motivates his adoption of a virtue-theoretic condition in the first place: to guarantee the appropriate direction of fit that known beliefs have. Finally, I examine whether other virtue-theoretic accounts are able to explain what I call the direction of fit problem.
This article traces a growing interest among epistemologists in the intellectuals of epistemic virtues. These are cognitive dispositions exercised in the formation of beliefs. Attempts to give intellectual virtues a central normative and/or explanatory role in epistemology occur together with renewed interest in the ethics/epistemology analogy, and in the role of intellectual virtue in Aristotle's epistemology. The central distinction drawn here is between two opposed forms of virtueepistemology, virtue reliabilism and virtue (...) responsibilism. The article develops the shared and distinctive claims made by contemporary proponents of each form, in their respective treatments of knowledge and justification. (shrink)
The ancient Greeks almost universally accepted the thesis that virtues are skills. Skills have an underlying intellectual structure (logos), and having a particular skill entails understanding the relevant logos, possessing a general ability to diagnose and solve problems (phronesis), as well as having appropriate experience. Two implications of accepting this thesis for moral epistemology and epistemology in general are considered. Thinking of virtues as skills yields a viable virtueepistemology in which moral knowledge is a species (...) of a general kind of knowledge that is not philosophically suspect. Also, the debate between internalists and externalists in epistemology is subversively resolved. (edited). (shrink)
The recent literature on the theory of knowledge has taken a distinctive turn by focusing on the role of the cognitive and intellectual virtues in the acquisition of knowledge. The main contours and motivations for such virtue-theoretic accounts of knowledge are here sketched and it is argued that virtueepistemology in its most plausible form can be regarded as a refined form of reliabilism, and thus a variety of epistemic externalism. Moreover, it is claimed that there is (...) strong empirical support in favour of the virtue epistemic position so understood, and an empirical study regarding the cognitive processes employed by medical experts in their diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy is cited in this regard. In general, it is argued that one can best account for 'expert' knowledge in terms of a virtue-theoretic epistemology that retains key reliabilist features. It is thus shown that understanding knowledge along virtue-theoretic lines has important implications for our understanding of how knowledge is acquired, and thus for the philosophy of education. (shrink)
In this article I return to an argument that I presented in earlier work to the effect that virtueepistemology is at worse false and at best unmotivated. In the light of recent responses to this argument from such figures as John Greco, Guy Axtell, and Kelly Becker, I here re-state and re-evaluate this argument. In the process the original argument is refined and supplemented in key respects and some of the main charges against it are shown to (...) be unfounded. Nevertheless, I also argue that at least one of the objections to the original argument—due to Becker—may well be on the right lines, and I draw some conclusions in this regard. (shrink)
In this paper I develop and support a feminist virtueepistemology and bring it into conversation with feminist contextual empiricism and feminist standpoint theory. The virtue theory I develop is centered on the virtue of epistemic trustworthiness, which foregrounds the social/political character of knowledge practices and products, and the differences between epistemic agencies that perpetuate, on the one hand, and displace, on the other hand, normative patterns of unjust epistemic discrimination. I argue that my view answers (...) important questions regarding epistemic agency which both contextual empiricism and standpoint theory leave open, but need to have answered. Feminist virtueepistemology thus emerges as providing an integrative framework for pluralism in feminist epistemology that illuminated connections among theories through engagement with the lived experiences, aspirations, and epistemic work of feminist epistemic agents. (shrink)
In response to Anton Froeyman's paper, “Virtues of Historiography,“ this article argues that philosophers of history interested in why historians cherish such virtues as carefulness, impartiality, and intellectual courage would do wise not to classify these virtues unequivocally as either epistemic or moral virtues. Likewise, in trying to grasp the roles that virtues play in the historian's professional practice, philosophers of history would be best advised to avoid adopting either an epistemological or an ethical perspective. Assuming that the historian's virtuous (...) behavior has epistemic and moral dimensions (as well as aesthetic, political, and other dimensions), this article advocates a non-reductionist account of historical scholarship, which acknowledges that the virtues cherished by historians usually play a variety of roles, depending on the goals they are supposed to serve. Given that not the least important of these goals are epistemic ones, the articles concludes that virtue ethical approaches, to the extent that they are focused on the acquisition of moral instead of epistemic goods, insufficiently recognize the role of virtue in the pursuit of such epistemic aims as knowledge and understanding. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that virtue ethics should be understood as a form of ethics which integrates various domains of the practical in relation to which virtues are excellences. To argue this it is necessary to distinguish two senses of the “moral”: the broad sense which integrates the domains of the practical and a narrow classificatory sense. Virtue ethics, understood as above, believes that all genuine virtue should be understood as what I call virtues proper. To (...) possess a virtue proper (such as an excellent disposition of open-mindedness, an epistemic virtue) is to possess a disposition of overall excellence in relation to the sphere or field of the virtue (being open to the opinions of others). Overall excellence in turn involves excellence in integrating to a sufficient degree, standards of excellence in all relevant practical domains. Epistemic virtues, sporting virtues, moral virtues, and so on are all virtues proper. In particular it is impossible for an epistemic virtue to be a moral (narrow sense) vice. (shrink)
Abstract Paul Boghossian discusses critically my account of intuition as a source of epistemic status. Stewart Cohen takes up my views on skepticism, on dreams, and on epistemic competence and competences and their relation to human knowledge. Hilary Kornblith focuses on my animal/reflective distinction, and, along with Cohen, on my comparison between how dreams might mislead us and how other bad epistemic contexts can do so. In this paper I offer replies to my three critics.
The idea of a virtue has traditionally been important in ethics, but only recently has gained attention as an idea that can explain how we ought to form beliefs as well as how we ought to act. Moral philosophers and epistemologists have different approaches to the idea of intellectual virtue; here, Michael DePaul and Linda Zagzebski bring work from both fields together for the first time to address all of the important issues. It will be required reading for (...) anyone working on either side of the debate. (shrink)
Duncan Pritchard has, in the years following his (2005) defence of a safety-based account of knowledge in Epistemic Luck, abjured his (2005) view that knowledge can be analysed exclusively in terms of a modal safety condition. He has since (Pritchard in Synthese 158:277–297, 2007; J Philosophic Res 34:33–45, 2009a, 2010) opted for an account according to which two distinct conditions function with equal importance and weight within an analysis of knowledge: an anti-luck condition (safety) and an ability condition-the latter being (...) a condition aimed at preserving what Pritchard now takes to be a fundamental insight about knowledge: that it arises from cognitive ability (Greco 2010; Sosa 2007, 2009). Pritchard calls his new view anti-luck virtueepistemology (ALVE). A key premise in Pritchard’s argument for ALVE is what I call the independence thesis; the thesis that satisfying neither the anti-luck condition nor the ability condition entails that the other is satisfied. Pritchard’s argument for the independence thesis relies crucially upon the case he makes for thinking that cognitive achievements are compatible with knowledge-undermining environmental luck—that is, the sort of luck widely thought to undermine knowledge in standard barn facade cases. In the first part of this paper, I outline the key steps in Pritchard’s argument for anti-luck virtueepistemology and highlight how it is that the compatibility of cognitive achievement and knowledge- undermining environmental luck is indispensible to the argument’s success. The second part of this paper aims to show that this compatibility premise crucial to Pritchard’s argument is incorrect. (shrink)
One version of virtueepistemology defines knowledge as belief whose truth arises from, or is explained by, the motives that produced it. This version is also intended to solve the Gettier problem, by shielding properly caused beliefs from double accidents. Unfortunately, there is no notion of "explains" or "arises from" which explains in the intended sense the truth of true beliefs.
What are the qualities of an excellent thinker? A growing new field, virtueepistemology, answers this question. Section I distinguishes virtueepistemology from belief-based epistemology. Section II explains the two primary accounts of intellectual virtue: virtue-reliabilism and virtue-responsibilism. Virtue-reliabilists claim that the virtues are stable reliable faculties, like vision. Virtue-responsibilists claim that they are acquired character traits, like open-mindedness. Section III evaluates progress and problems with respect to three key projects: (...) explaining low-grade knowledge, high-grade knowledge, and the individual intellectual virtues. (shrink)
The Duhem-Quine Thesis is the claim that it is impossible to test a scientific hypothesis in isolation because any empirical test requires assuming the truth of one or more auxiliary hypotheses. This is taken by many philosophers, and is assumed here, to support the further thesis that theory choice is underdetermined by empirical evidence. This inquiry is focused strictly on the axiological commitments engendered in solutions to underdetermination, specifically those of Pierre Duhem and W. V. Quine. Duhem resolves underdetermination by (...) appealing to a cluster of virtues called 'good sense', and it has recently been argued by Stump (Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sei, 18(1):149-159,2007) that good sense is a form of virtueepistemology. This paper considers whether Quine, who's philosophy is heavily influenced by the very thesis that led Duhem to the virtues, is also led to a virtueepistemology in the face of underdetermination. Various sources of Quinian epistemic normativity are considered, and it is argued that, in conjunction with other normative commitments, Quine's sectarian solution to underdetermination amounts to a skills based virtueepistemology. The paper also sketches formal features of the novel form of virtueepistemology common to Duhem and Quine that challenges the adequacy of epistemic value truth-monism and blocks any imperialist naturalization of virtueepistemology, as the epistemic virtues are essential to the success of the sciences themselves. (shrink)
A popular form of virtueepistemology—defended by such figures as Ernest Sosa, Linda Zagzebski and John Greco—holds that knowledge can be exclusively understood in virtue-theoretic terms. In particular, it holds that there isn't any need for an additional epistemic condition to deal with the problem posed by knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. It is argued that the sustainability of such a proposal is called into question by the possibility of epistemic twin earth cases. In particular, it is argued that (...) such cases demonstrate the need for virtue-theoretic accounts of knowledge to appeal to an independent epistemic condition which excludes knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. (shrink)
This paper pursues Ernan McMullin‘s claim ("Virtues of a Good Theory" and related papers on theory-choice) that talk of theory virtues exposes a fault-line in philosophy of science separating "very different visions" of scientific theorizing. It argues that connections between theory virtues and virtueepistemology are substantive rather than ornamental, since both address underdetermination problems in science, helping us to understand the objectivity of theory choice and more specifically what I term the ampliative adequacy of scientific theories. The (...) paper argues therefore that virtue epistemologies can make substantial contributions to the epistemology and methodology of the sciences, helping to bridge the gulf between realists and anti-realists, and to re-enforce moderation over claims about the implications of underdetermination problems for scientific inquiry. It finally makes and develops the suggestion that virtue epistemologies, at least of the kind developed here, offer support to the position that philosophers of science know as normative naturalism. (shrink)
Pritchard (Synthese 175,133–51, 2010) and Vaesen (Synthese forthcoming) have recently argued that robust virtueepistemology does not square with the extended cognition thesis that has enjoyed an increasing degree of popularity in recent philosophy of mind. This paper shows that their arguments fail. The relevant cases of extended cognition pose no new problem for robust virtueepistemology. It is shown that Pritchard’s and Vaesen’s cases can be dealt with in familiar ways by a number of (...) class='Hi'>virtue theories of knowledge. (shrink)
From the ferment of recent debates about the intellectual virtues, Roberts and Wood develop an approach they call 'regulative epistemology', exploring the connection between knowledge and intellectual virtue. In the course of their argument they analyse particular virtues of intellectual life - such as courage, generosity, and humility - in detail.
According to robust virtueepistemology, knowledge is a cognitive achievement, where this means that the agent's cognitive success is because of her cognitive ability. One type of objection to robust virtueepistemology that has been put forward in the contemporary literature is that this view has problems dealing with certain kinds of testimonial knowledge, and thus that it is in tension with standard views in the epistemology of testimony. We build on this critique to argue (...) that insofar as agents epistemically depend on third-party members of their epistemic community as many social epistemologists contend, then there will be cases where two agents differ epistemically despite being virtue-theoretic duplicates. This means that robust virtueepistemology, at least insofar as it is understood along standard lines such that it endorses epistemic individualism, is also in tension with a central commitment of contemporary social epistemology. (shrink)
In Virtues of the Mind I object to process reliabilism on the grounds that it does not explain the good of knowledge in addition to the good of true belief. In this paper I wish to develop this objection in more detail, and will then argue that this problem pushes us first in the direction of two offspring of process reliabilism—faculty reliabilism and proper functionalism, and, finally, to a true virtueepistemology.
Virtue ethics and virtueepistemology shift the focus of evaluation from thin concepts to thick ones. Simon Blackburn has argued that a shift to thick ethical concepts dooms us to talking past one another. I contend that virtue epistemologists can answer Blackburn's objection, thus salvaging genuine disagreement about the epistemically thick. Section I introduces the standard cognitivist and non-cognitivist analyses of thick concepts. Section II argues that thick epistemic concepts are subject to combinatorial vagueness. I contend (...) that virtue epistemologists share vague concepts of intellectual virtue and open-mindedness. Section III addresses Allan Gibbard's worry that appealing to vagueness exacerbates the problem. I conclude that for genuine disagreement to occur, the parties must (1) share vague concepts; and (2) agree on the goals of their conceptual analyses. (shrink)
The terrain of character-based or “responsibilist” virtueepistemology has evolved dramatically over the last decade -- so much so that it is far from clear what, if anything, unifies the various views put forth in this area. In an attempt to bring some clarity to the overall thrust and structure of this movement, I develop a fourfold classification of character-based virtue epistemologies. I also offer a qualified assessmentof each approach, defending a certain account of the probable future (...) of this burgeoning subfield. (shrink)
In this paper I defend a relevant possibilities approach against a familiar kind of skepticism, and I argue that virtueepistemology can provide a theoretical grounding for the kind of solutions that is offered. In the section that follows I outline both the skeptical problems and the solution. In the remaining sections I develop the proposal in more detail. If my argument is sound then the paper also constitutes an argument in favor of virtueepistemology.
Elsewhere, I have challenged virtueepistemology and argued that it doesn’t square with mundane cases of extended cognition. Kelp (forthcoming, this journal) and Greco (forthcoming) have responded to my charges, the former by questioning the force of my argument, the latter by developing a new virtueepistemology. Here I consider both responses. I show first that Kelp mischaracterizes my challenge. Subsequently, I identify two new problems for Greco’s new virtueepistemology.