Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology

Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology

Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology

Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology

Synopsis

From the ferment of recent debates about the intellectual virtues, Roberts and Wood develop an approach they call 'regulative epistemology', exploring the connection between knowledge and intellectual virtue. In the course of their argument they analyse particular virtues of intellectual life - such as courage, generosity, and humility - in detail.

Excerpt

Human knowledge, understanding, and experience are as distinctive of our life as anything, including even the opposed thumb and erect posture, and the varieties of them are among the deepest distinguishers of human beings from one another. Virtually every people across the world are concerned to educate their children in what they take to be knowledge, understanding, and powers of recognition. The human tribe form universities for finding and transmitting knowledge, and many of us think a university education to be far more than equipment for survival and financial prosperity. We think that knowing what the sciences and history can teach, and understanding what great literature and philosophy can help us to understand, are themselves a kind of prosperity, indeed a necessary and central component of the highest human flourishing. In some societies, and in some corners even of our own society, some of the elderly are held in special esteem because of their wisdom, which is taken to be a rare achievement and legacy of great value.

The ancient discipline that philosophers call epistemology is the study of human knowledge and related epistemic goods. Every university discipline is, of course, a study of human knowledge (chemistry studying chemical knowledge, history historical knowledge, and so forth), but epistemology is a study of the concept of knowledge. It turns reflective about this ubiquitous concern, this central and distinctive human good, and asks critical and normative questions about it: What is knowledge and what are its limits? Can we know anything? How do we know what we know? Can we know something without knowing that we know it? What is the proper basis of knowledge? What are the faculties by which we know? What are the . . .

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