Virtue Epistemology (Spring 2013 graduate class)
Dr. Stephen R. Grimm
Just as virtue ethics focuses on what it is that makes for a good human life or for a good moral character, so too virtue epistemology focuses on what it is that makes for a good epistemic life or for a good epistemic character.
In particular, virtue epistemologists are especially interested in what it is that makes a person a conscientious and effective believer, or what it is that makes his or her beliefs justified or rational.
They are also interested in the sort of “higher” epistemic goods that seem especially important to human intellectual flourishing, such as the pursuit of wisdom or understanding.
In this class we will mainly focus on three books by contemporary virtue epistemologists, each of which stakes out important new positions in these debates:
· Jason Baehr’s The Inquiring Mind: On Intellectual Virtues and Virtue Epistemology (Oxford University Press, 2011),
· John Greco’s Achieving Knowledge: A Virtue-Theoretic Account of Epistemic Normativtiy (Cambridge University Press, 2010), and
· Linda Zagzebski’s Epistemic Authority: A Theory of Trust, Authority, and Autonomy in Belief (Oxford University Press, 2012).
While the focus of the course will be on epistemology, we will also consider recent work in virtue ethics that touches on questions of common concern. There is also a good chance that Baehr, Greco, or Zagzebski will be able to attend some of the seminars to speak to the class directly.