Volume 4, Issue 2, 2013
In Defense of Virtue-Responsibilism
Modest realism affirms that some of the objects of our beliefs exist independently of our beliefs. That is, there is a mind-independent world that we can
epistemically access. The Cartesian skeptic claims that we can’t offer any non-question-begging arguments in favor of modest realism and therefore we are not justified in believing that modest realism is true. Reliabilists argue that the skeptic assumes an evidentialist-internalist account of justification and that a proper account of justification jettisons this. Hence, our belief in modest realism can be justified. I argue in this paper that virtue-responsibilism offers an analogous response to the Cartesian skeptic. According to the virtue-responsibilist, my belief that P is an instance of knowledge iff it maps onto reality and is the result of an act of virtue. I show that the virtueresponsibilist theory excludes evidentialist-internalism, and allows for our belief in modest realism to be justified. However, it may be objected that the virtue-responsibilist can’t offer non-question-begging reasons for thinking that the virtues are reliable. I argue that this objection fails and that we can know that the virtues are reliable by empirical study. Thus, virtue-responsibilism provides a satisfactory response to the Cartesian skeptic.