Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2018)

Luis Pinto De Sa
Saint Louis University
John Greco
Georgetown University
Epistemic value is a kind of value possessed by knowledge, and perhaps other epistemic goods such as justification and understanding. The problem of explaining the value of knowledge is perennial in philosophy, going back at least as far as Plato’s Meno. One formulation of the problem is to explain why and in what sense knowledge is valuable. Another version of the problem is to explain why and in what sense knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief or opinion. This article looks at various formulations of the value problem and various accounts of the value of knowledge in ancient and modern philosophy. The article then considers some contemporary discussions of the value problem, including the charge that reliabilist accounts cannot account for the value of knowledge over mere true belief. Various virtue-theoretic accounts of epistemic value are discussed as possible improvements over process reliabilism, and the epistemic value of understanding (as compared to knowledge) is considered.
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