Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 75, 2018

Theories of Knowledge and Epistemology

Steven Hales
Pages 109-113

Virtue Epistemology and the Value of Knowledge

Virtue epistemologists like Ernest Sosa and John Greco have attempted to explain why knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief. In this talk I demonstrate that both of their accounts fail so profoundly that it is difficult to see how virtue epistemology alone contains the resources to explain the value of knowledge. According to the virtue theoretic approach, knowledge is a kind of success from ability. Knowledge constitutes a competent epistemic performance, and some performances are better than others; not better because they are more accurate, but better because they exhibit the skill of the performer. It is in this way that the performance of knowledge is better than the lucky success of mere true belief. I will show that the Sosa/Greco model entails the false result that the blind review of scholarship should be abolished. This entailment is, by modus tollens, a counterexample to their view. Since it is often held that a comprehensive theory of knowledge ought to explain the value question, the failure of virtue epistemology to do so is a black mark against the virtue approach altogether.