Knowledge, Belief, and Character

Readings in Contemporary Virtue Epistemology

Contributions by Alvin Goldman, Ernest Sosa, Hilary Kornblith, John Greco, Jonathan Dancy, Laurence Bonjour, Linda Zagrebsky, Julia Driver, James Montmarquet, Chirstopher Hookway, Ricard Paul, Guy Axtell, Casey Swank Edited by Guy Axtell

Publication date:

10 May 2000

Length of book:

256 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9780847696529

There have been many books over the past decade, including outstanding collections of essays, on the topic of the ethical virtues and virtue-theoretic approaches in ethics. But the professional journals of philosophy have only recently seen a strong and growing interest in the intellectual virtues and in the development of virtue-theoretic approaches in epistemology. There have been four single-authored book length treatments of issues of virtue epistemology over the last seven years, beginning with Ernest Sosa's Knowledge in Perspective (Cambridge, 1991), and extending to Linda Zabzebski's Virtue of the Mind (Cambridge, 1996). Weighing in with Jonathan Kvanvig's The Intellectual Virtues and the Life of the Mind (1992), and James Montmarquet's Epistemic Virtue and Doxastic Responsibility (1993), Rowman & Littlefield has had a particularly strong interest in the direction and growth of the field. To date, there has been no collection of articles directly devoted to the growing debate over the possibility and potential of a virtue epistemology. This volume exists in the belief that there is now a timely opportunity to gather together the best contributions of the influential authors working in this growing area of epistemological research, and to create a collection of essays as a useful course text and research source. Several of the articles included in the volume are previously unpublished. Several essays discuss the range and general approach of virtue theory in comparison with other general accounts. What advantages are supposed to accrue from a virtue-based account in epistemology, in handling well-known problems such as 'Gettier,' and 'Evil-Genie'-type problems? Can reliabilist virtue epistemology handle skeptical challenges more satisfactorily than non-virtue-centered forms of epistemic reliabilism? Others provide a needed discussion of relevant analogies and disanalogies between ethical and epistemic evaluation. The readings all contribute to our understanding of the relative importance, for a theory of justified belief, of the reliability of our cognitive faculties and of the individual's responsibility in gathering and weighing evidence. Highlights of the readings include direct exchanges between leading exponents of this approach and their critics. In addition, the volume includes contributions from feminist writers who offer a reassessment of the intellectual virtues from witin their own research paradigm.
Axtell has done an excellent job of selecting outstanding examples of the virtue theoretic approach to epistemology. For someone interested in the issue, Axtell's book is a great introduction.