Battaly, Heather, and . Virtue Epistemology

2008, Philosophy Compass 3(4): 639-663.

Abstract: What are the qualities of an excellent thinker? A growing new field, virtue epistemology, answers this question. Section I distinguishes virtue epistemology from belief-based epistemology. Section II explains the two primary accounts of intellectual virtue: virtue-reliabilism and virtue-responsibilism. Virtue-reliabilists claim that the virtues are stable reliable faculties, like vision. Virtue-responsibilists claim that they are acquired character traits, like open-mindedness. Section III evaluates progress and problems with respect to three key projects: explaining low-grade knowledge, high-grade knowledge, and the individual intellectual virtues.

Comment: This is a very helpful survey article on virtue epistemology covering works published between 1990 to early 2000s. This paper is most appropriate for beginners, offering an overview of the main problems and helping understand different positions of virtue epistemology.

Battaly, Heather, and . Epistemic Self-Indulgence

2010, Metaphilosophy 41(1): 214-234.

Abstract: I argue in this essay that there is an epistemic analogue of moral self-indulgence. Section 1 analyzes Aristotle’s notion of moral temperance, and its corresponding vices of self-indulgence and insensibility. Section 2 uses Aristotle’s notion of moral self-indulgence as a model for epistemic self-indulgence. I argue that one is epistemically self-indulgent only if one either: (ESI1) desires, consumes, and enjoys appropriate and inappropriate epistemic objects; or (ESI2) desires, consumes, and enjoys epistemic objects at appropriate and inappropriate times; or (ESI3) desires and enjoys epistemic objects too frequently, or to an inappropriately high degree, or consumes too much of them. We need not look far to locate the epistemically self-indulgent: philosophers, especially skeptics, are likely candidates.

Comment: This is an interesting article offering an analysis on the concept of an intellectual vice: epistemic self-indulgence. It will give the students an overview of the concept of intellectual self-indulgence, and an initial idea of how we could understand and work on individual vices. By providing concrete examples, this paper would make it easier for students to understand what virtue epistemology aims to achieve.

Dalmiya, Vrinda, and . Why should a knower care?

2002, Hypatia 17(1): 34--52.

Abstract: This paper argues that the concept of care is significant not only for ethics, but for epistemology as well. After elucidating caring as a five-step dyadic relation, I go on to show its epistemic significance within the general framework of virtue epistemology as developed by Ernest Sosa, Alvin Goldman, and Linda Zagzebski. The notions of “care-knowing” and “care-based epistemology” emerge from construing caring (respectively) as a reliabilist and responsibilist virtue.

Comment: This text is best used in epistemology classes when discussing virtue reliablist and responsibilist approaches, and epistemic success in general. It will also be useful in philosophy of science classes: Dalmiya argues for radical changes in our approach to scientific research, including a redefinition of the epistemic and moral constraints which guide it.

Fricker, Miranda, and . Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing

2007, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Note: In this exploration of new territory between ethics and epistemology, Miranda Fricker argues that there is a distinctively epistemic type of injustice, in which someone is wronged specifically in their capacity as a knower. Justice is one of the oldest and most central themes in philosophy, but in order to reveal the ethical dimension of our epistemic practices the focus must shift to injustice. Fricker adjusts the philosophical lens so that we see through to the negative space that is epistemic injustice. The book explores two different types of epistemic injustice, each driven by a form of prejudice, and from this exploration comes a positive account of two corrective ethical-intellectual virtues. The characterization of these phenomena casts light on many issues, such as social power, prejudice, virtue, and the genealogy of knowledge, and it proposes a virtue epistemological account of testimony. In this ground-breaking book, the entanglements of reason and social power are traced in a new way, to reveal the different forms of epistemic injustice and their place in the broad pattern of social injustice.

Comment: In this book, Fricker names the phenomenon of epistemic injustice, and distinguish two central forms of it, with their corresponding remedies. It touches the central issues in social epistemology and philosophy of gender and race. It is thus an essential reading for relevant courses on those two areas.

Lackey, Jennifer, and . Why We Don’t Deserve Credit for Everything We Know

2009, Synthese 158(3): 345-361.

Abstract: A view of knowledge – what I call the Deserving Credit View of Knowledge (DCVK) – found in much of the recent epistemological literature, particularly among so-called virtue epistemologists, centres around the thesis that knowledge is something for which a subject deserves credit. Indeed, this is said to be the central difference between those true beliefs that qualify as knowledge and those that are true merely by luck – the former, unlike the latter, are achievements of the subject and are thereby creditable to her. Moreover, it is often further noted that deserving credit is what explains the additional value that knowledge has over merely lucky true belief. In this paper, I argue that the general conception of knowledge found in the DCVK is fundamentally incorrect. In particular, I show that deserving credit cannot be what distinguishes knowledge from merely lucky true belief since knowledge is not something for which a subject always deserves credit.

Comment: This is an important paper in the literature on virtue epistemology. It argues that one formulation of the virtue epistemology in terms of the Credit View is very problematic. It is suitable for both lower- and upper-division of undergraduate courses on epistemology.

Linda Zagzesbki, and . Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry Into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge.

1996, Cambridge University Press.

lmost all theories of knowledge and justified belief employ moral concepts and forms of argument borrowed from moral theories, but none of them pay attention to the current renaissance in virtue ethics. This remarkable book is the first attempt to establish a theory of knowledge based on the model of virtue theory in ethics. The book develops the concept of an intellectual virtue, and then shows how the concept can be used to give an account of the major concepts in epistemology, including the concept of knowledge. This highly original work of philosophy for professionals will also provide students with an excellent introduction to epistemology, virtue theory, and the relationship between ethics and epistemology.

Comment: This book is highly original, cutting edge work, suitable for students at all levels. By introducing the notion of intellectual virtues in an Aristotelian model, Linda Zagzesbki developed a whole new field of epistemology, now known as virtue responsibilism. In this book, she not only tries to explain the notion of intellectual virtues but also define knowledge by way of intellectual virtues.