I am interested in epistemic virtues for reasons rather different than most. I do not offer a virtue theory of anything, I don't argue that we can solve various long−standing problems in epistemology by appeal to epistemic virtues, nor am I an opponent of any of these things (though I certainly find some of these projects more plausible than others.) Rather, my interest in the epistemic virtues stems from a long−standing commitment to epistemic value pluralism, and a belief that, until (...) recently, epistemology has been stifled by an implicit commitment to the hegemony of truth in the realm of epistemic value. Since the language of epistemic virtue theory adds a welcome richness to the vocabulary of epistemic evaluation, I find it appealing for that reason at least. (shrink)
As a proponent and practitioner of value−driven epistemology1, I am very gratified that this collection of essays on epistemic value has been put together. I believe that the recent emphasis on epistemic value within epistemology has already borne fruit, with the promise of much more to come. One reason for this promise is that a value−driven approach to epistemology invites one to ask kinds of questions that, while certainly not prohibited by more traditional epistemological method, do not naturally arise. Twentieth (...) century analytic epistemology became rather myopically focused on getting the conditions under which one has knowledge just right, leaving aside for the most part questions about the role and value of knowledge in our lives more broadly. After all, while humans are knowers, we are many other things besides. Getting clear on precisely why we care about knowledge, whatever exactly it is, helps us understand how our cognitive lives are entwined with our moral lives, our prudential lives, etc. (shrink)
Is knowledge more valuable than mere true belief? Few question the value of having true beliefs, and insofar as having knowledge entails (at least) having a true belief, we value knowledge. But traditionally it has been assumed that whatever it takes to turn true belief into knowledge has some additional value. Traditionally, then, philosophers have been committed to what I will call the ‘Value Principle'.
Jonathan Kvanvig's book, The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding (Kvanvig, 2003), is a wonderful example of doing epistemology in a style that Kvanvig himself has termed "value−driven epistemology." On this approach, one takes questions about epistemic value to be central to theoretical concerns, including the concern to provide an adequate account of knowledge. This approach yields the demand that theories of knowledge must provide, not just an adequate account of the nature of knowledge, but also an account (...) of the value of knowledge. Given the near−universal assumption that knowledge has a special kind of value, this demand seems reasonable, though surprisingly hard to satisfy. Another consequence of this approach to doing epistemology is that certain assumptions about epistemic value, like what sorts of things have it and what sorts of things don't, and where such value comes from, become much more salient to the epistemic enterprise. In his book, Kvanvig challenges the assumption that knowledge has some unique store of epistemic value. And he investigates the matter by asking questions about what the bearers of epistemic value are and where they get it. He concludes, of course, that knowledge as we have come to conceive it in 21st century epistemology has no such special value. (shrink)
This paper focuses on several issues that arise in Miranda Fricker?s book Epistemic injustice surrounding her claims about our (moral) culpability for perpetrating acts of testimonial injustice. While she makes frequent claims about moral culpability with respect to specific examples, she never addresses the issue in its full generality, and we are left to extrapolate her general view about moral culpability for acts of testimonial injustice from these more restricted and particular claims. Although Fricker never describes testimonial injustice in such (...) terms, I argue that the fundamental wrong done in acts of testimonial injustice is a form of negligence. Once we understand testimonial injustice in this way, it is easier to see when and why we are culpable for perpetrating such injustices. Indeed, explicitly recognizing testimonial injustice as a form of negligence solves several problems for Fricker?s view, which are elucidated briefly along the way. However, construing testimonial injustice as a form of negligence has a cost as well. It highlights the fact that the normative core of Fricker?s view is deontological, rather than virtue-theoretic. Fricker claims to be offering a theory of the virtue of testimonial justice along the model of current virtue theories in epistemology, yet it seems that there is no compelling reason to think of what she has offered as a virtue theory, at least not on the model of virtue theories that one finds in epistemology. This is not to say that her view is any less plausible for not being a virtue theory. But calling it a virtue theory affects how one interprets its various claims, and tends to lead one away from, rather than toward, a proper understanding of the deep deontological nature of her account. (shrink)
Abstract: Open-mindedness is typically at the top of any list of the intellectual or "epistemic" virtues. Yet, providing an account that simultaneously explains why open-mindedness is an epistemically valuable trait to have and how such a trait is compatible with full-blooded belief turns out to be a challenge. Building on the work of William Hare and Jonathan Adler, I defend a view of open-mindedness that meets this challenge. On this view, open-mindedness is primarily an attitude toward oneself as a believer, (...) rather than toward any particular belief. To be open-minded is to be aware of one's fallibility as a believer, and to acknowledge the possibility that anytime one believes something, one could be wrong. In order to see that such an attitude is epistemically valuable even to an already virtuous agent, some details of the skills and habits of the open-minded agent are elucidated. (shrink)
This paper defends the theory that knowledge is credit-worthy true belief against a family of objections, two instances of which were leveled against it in a recent paper by Jennifer Lackey. Lackey argues that both innate knowledge (if there is any) and testimonial knowledge are too easily come by for it to be plausible that the knower deserves credit for it. If this is correct, then knowledge would appear not to be a matter of credit for true belief. I will (...) attempt to neutralize these objections by drawing a distinction between credit as praiseworthiness and credit as attributability. (shrink)
It is generally assumed that there are (at least) two fundamental epistemic goals: believing truths, and avoiding the acceptance of falsehoods. As has been often noted, these goals are in conflict with one another. Moreover, the norms governing rational belief that we should derive from these two goals depend on how we weight them relative to one another. However, it is not obvious that there is one objectively correct weighting for everyone in all circumstances. Indeed, as I shall argue, it (...) looks as though there are circumstances in which a range of possible weightings of the two goals are all equally epistemically rational. (shrink)
It is nearly universally acknowledged among epistemologists that a belief, even if true, cannot count as knowledge if it is somehow largely a matter of luck that the person so arrived at the truth. A striking feature of this literature, however, is that while many epistemologists are busy arguing about which particular technical condition most effectively rules out the offensive presence of luck in true believing, almost no one is asking why it matters so much that knowledge be immune from (...) luck in the first place. I argue that the best explanation for the consensus that luck undermines knowledge is that knowledge is, complications aside, credit-worthy true believing. To make this case, I develop both the notions of luck and credit, and sketch a theory of knowledge in those terms. Furthermore, this account also holds promise for being able to solve the “value problem” for knowledge, and it explains why both internal and external conditions are necessary to turn true belief into knowledge. (shrink)
Current epistemological dogma has it that the twin goalsof believing truths and avoiding errors exhaust our cognitive aspirations.On such a view, (call it the TG view) the only evaluationsthat count as genuinely epistemological are those that evaluatesomething (a belief, believer, set of beliefs, a cognitivetrait or process, etc.) in terms of its connection to thesetwo goods. In particular, this view implies that all theepistemic value of knowledge must be derived from thevalue of the two goals cited in TG. I argue (...) thatthis implication is false, and thus that the TG view must be abandoned. I propose a candidate to replacethe TG view that makes better sense of the value ofknowledge. (shrink)
Reliabilism has come under recent attack for its alleged inability to account for the value we typically ascribe to knowledge. It is charged that a reliably-produced true belief has no more value than does the true belief alone. I reply to these charges on behalf of reliabilism; not because I think reliabilism is the correct theory of knowledge, but rather because being reliably-produced does add value of a sort to true beliefs. The added value stems from the fact that a (...) reliably-held belief is non-accidental in a particular way. While it is widely acknowledged that accidentally true beliefs cannot count as knowledge, it is rarely questioned why this should be so. An answer to this question emerges from the discussion of the value of reliability; an answer that holds interesting implications for the value and nature of knowledge. (shrink)
Current epistemological dogma has it that the twin goalsof believing truths and avoiding errors exhaust our cognitive aspirations. On such a view, (call it the "TG view") the only evaluations that count as genuinely epistemological are those that evaluate something (a belief, believer, set of beliefs, a cognitive trait or process, etc.) in terms of its connection to these two goods. In particular, this view implies that all the epistemic value of knowledge must be derived from the value of the (...) two goals cited in TG. I argue that this implication is false, and thus that the TG view must be abandoned. I propose a candidate to replace the TG view that makes better sense of the value of knowledge. (shrink)
Coherence theorists have universally defined justification as a relation only among (the contents of) belief states, in contradistinction to other theories, such as some versions of foundationalism, which define justification as a relation on belief states and appearance states.