Detecting Epistemic Vice in Higher Education Policy: Epistemic Insensibility in the Seven Solutions and the REF

Journal of Philosophy of Education 47 (2):263-280 (2013)
Heather Battaly
University of Connecticut
This article argues that the Seven Solutions in the US, and the Research Excellence Framework in the UK, manifest the vice of epistemic insensibility. Section I provides an overview of Aristotle's analysis of moral vice in people. Section II applies Aristotle's analysis to epistemic vice, developing an account of epistemic insensibility. In so doing, it contributes a new epistemic vice to the field of virtue epistemology. Section III argues that the (US) Seven Breakthrough Solutions and, to a lesser extent, the (UK) Research Excellence Framework manifest two key features of the vice of epistemic insensibility. First, they promote a failure to desire, consume, and enjoy some knowledge that it is appropriate to desire, consume, and enjoy. Second, they do so because they wrongly assume that such knowledge is not epistemically good. The Solutions wrongly assume that any research that lacks ‘impact’, in the form of funding, thereby lacks epistemic value. The REF wrongly assumes of otherwise comparable bodies of research, that the research that lacks ‘impact’ has less epistemic value
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DOI 10.1111/1467-9752.12024
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