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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 56, Issue 3, 2019

Ilya T. Kasavin
Pages 6-19
DOI: 10.5840/eps201956341

Virtue Epistemology: on the 40th Anniversary of the Turn in Analytical Philosophy

The article summarizes the main developments in virtue epistemology and reacts to the challenges faced by the discipline. This new trend in analytic epistemology emerges as a synthesis of a number of directions (metaethics, social epistemology, metaphilosophy and experimental philosophy). On the one hand, it attempts to overcome some weaknesses of classical epistemology and, on the other hand, it performs this on the same basis, retaining the classical understanding of knowledge as justified true belief. It was dubbed “virtue epistemology” since it focuses on restoration of the normative approach and on the opposition to Quine’s naturalism. It explores intellectual virtues like epistemology explores knowledge claims though emphasizing their subject-dependent nature. It is the cognitive agent who provides a foundation for intellectual virtues no matter whether they are understood as cognitive ability or mental traits. However, the most researchers take epistemic virtues as individual mental states available through introspection, and the entire analysis in fact boils down to the articulation of virtue intuitions in the cognitive process. For those intuitions, thought experiments serve as a test simulating everyday cognitive situations. Still, in the context of virtue epistemology some alternative approaches arise, contributing significant revisions to the subject matter and the methods of analytical epistemology. A collective agent replaces an individual one, and knowledge engages in an integral subject-object and subject-subject context. Normativism mitigates its opposition to naturalism, enabling the utilization of the empirical data from the social sciences and humanities. As a result, a dialogue of virtue epistemology with the philosophy and ethics of science gets the chance.

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