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Problems for Virtue Theories in Epistemology

Robert Lockie
Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Vol. 138, No. 2 (Mar., 2008), pp. 169-191
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40208867
Page Count: 23
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Problems for Virtue Theories in Epistemology
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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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