Problems for virtue theories in epistemology

Philosophical Studies 138 (2):169 - 191 (2008)
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Abstract

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.

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References found in this work

The structure of empirical knowledge.Laurence BonJour - 1985 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Warrant: The Current Debate.Warrant and Proper Function.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - New York, US: Oxford University Press USA.

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