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The Retrieval of Ethics$
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Talbot Brewer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557882

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557882.001.0001

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The Virtues in Theory and Practice

The Virtues in Theory and Practice

(p.286) 8 The Virtues in Theory and Practice
The Retrieval of Ethics

Talbot Brewer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Anglo‐American philosophy has recently seen two simultaneous virtue‐theoretic revivals — one in ethics and the other in epistemology. One might naturally assume that these are two manifestations of a single resurgent conception of normativity, but in fact virtue epistemology has thus far been built upon a far more conventional conceptual foundation than the best work in virtue ethics. The real promise of virtue epistemology lies not in resolving puzzles that already preoccupy epistemologists but in inducing a fundamental shift in the scope, ambitions and agenda of epistemology. The aim of this chapter is to argue in favor of a fundamental shift of this sort. The guiding thought is that if we are to locate a telos of theoretical reflection with reference to which we can identify virtuous intellectual dispositions or capacities, we should look not towards the conventional epistemological goals of true belief or propositional knowledge, but towards fully actualized understanding. The chapter closes by showing how this change in view makes possible a unified account of ethical and epistemic virtues.

Keywords:   virtue epistemology, virtue ethics, epistemic virtues, virtues of thought, understanding, reliabilism, responsibilism, Sosa, Zagzebski, Riggs, Kvanvig, Polanyi, Moravscik

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