Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 33, 2008

Anthony T. Flood
Pages 253-262

Epistemic Badness

In this paper, I challenge Casey Swank’s claim that what makes epistemic vices bad are deeper personal vices and not anything specifically epistemic. I argue that epistemic vices are bad on account of a lack of a good epistemic motive. Consequently, the source of the badness is specifically epistemic. I develop my argument through a consideration of Aquinas’s accounts of wonder and presumption, namely that what makes the latter bad is the lack of something that the former possesses. I then analyze some representative epistemic virtues and vices in terms of the presence or privation of certain good epistemic motives. Finally, on the basis of the logic of the privation of something that should be present, I argue that a given vice’s lack of a good epistemic motive specifies the kind of badness present. In the case of an epistemic vice, then, the source of the problem is something specifically epistemic.