Epistemic Value

Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1989)

Casey Swank
St. Cloud State University
In this essay, I seek to determine what it is for a belief to be justified. Along the way, I examine various recent theories of justifiedness, attending especially to those of Alvin Goldman and Hilary Kornblith. With Goldman and Kornblith, I argue that a belief's justifiedness derives from its etiology--that for a belief to be justified is for there to be something good about certain of the conditions to which it owes its existence. My disagreement with these theorists is over what is good about a justified belief's etiology. Specifically, I argue that the justifiedness or unjustifiedness of one's beliefs is determined by the virtuousness or viciousness of his epistemic character--and that epistemic virtues and vices are so called because they are the epistemic offshoots of underlying character-traits that are prized, or despised, irrespective of any specifically cognitive interests. I thus reject the traditional assumption that it is from the point of view of such interests that beliefs are approved as justified or disapproved as unjustified: Contrary to such truth-centered theories as Goldman's and Kornblith's, I argue in the end that truth has no place in a faithful account of justified belief
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