The concept of intellectual virtue as an epistemic norm

Anton V. Dol­ma­tov
RAS Insti­tute of Phi­los­o­phy

The con­cept of intel­lec­tu­al virtue as an epis­temic norm

Abstract. The con­cept of epis­temic norm is impor­tant for a descrip­tive study of cog­ni­tion, i.e. an expla­na­tion of cog­ni­tive activ­i­ty as derived from a change in or devel­op­ment of nor­ma­tive sys­tems that deter­mine the cri­te­ria of knowl­edge, and for the pre­scrip­tive goal of epis­te­mol­o­gy, i.e. in estab­lish­ing cer­tain norms that are con­sid­ered reli­able in achiev­ing knowl­edge. How­ev­er, the very con­cept of norm is not obvi­ous or clear. There are many ways to con­cep­tu­alise the struc­ture and con­tent of a norm, and these are the sub­ject of study in ethics. This paper aims to con­sid­er the pos­si­bil­i­ties of a spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the con­cept of epis­temic norm as an intel­lec­tu­al virtue. In the mid-20th cen­tu­ry, the are­ta­ic turn in phi­los­o­phy helped to solve some prob­lems with­in major mod­ern eth­i­cal doc­trines (such as the lack of con­tent or jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of eth­i­cal terms). It is pro­posed that the source of dif­fi­cul­ties for ethics and epis­te­mol­o­gy as nor­ma­tive dis­ci­plines may be the same, and then that the eth­i­cal argu­men­ta­tion in favour of the are­ta­ic turn may be inter­est­ing for epis­te­mol­o­gy, which is shown by close exam­i­na­tion of E. Anscombe’s cri­tique of mod­ern moral philoso­phers. The paper con­sid­ers two main approach­es to the def­i­n­i­tion of intel­lec­tu­al virtues, which are usu­al­ly referred to as «reli­a­bil­ism» (E. Sosa) and «respon­si­bil­ism» (L. Zagzeb­s­ki) in virtue epis­te­mol­o­gy. The lat­er approach is pre­ferred, since it enables the argu­ment for respon­si­bil­i­ty of a sub­ject. This def­i­n­i­tion of intel­lec­tu­al virtue is spec­i­fied with a char­ac­ter­is­tic of vari­abil­i­ty in its con­tent, which is pos­si­ble with­in a def­i­n­i­tion, pro­posed by A. Mac­In­tyre.

Key­words: epis­te­mol­o­gy, nor­ma­tiv­i­ty, virtue, prac­tice, ethics.



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