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Title: Epistemic value and virtue epistemology
Author: Ho, Tsung-Hsing
ISNI:       0000 0004 5370 7122
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2015
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My contributions to the research on epistemic value can be divided into two parts: first, I pinpoint some causes of the problems about epistemic value which have not previously been identified; and, second, I offer novel accounts of epistemic value which offer better solutions to the problems about epistemic value. First, there are two trends in the literature on epistemic value that are rarely challenged: (i) epistemologists tend to understand epistemic value in terms of intrinsic value from the epistemic point of view, and (ii) the discussion of epistemic value tends to focus only on the values of properties of belief. I argue that both trends should be rejected if we want to solve several persistent problems about epistemic value: the value problems about knowledge, the teleological account of epistemic normativity, and the triviality objection that some true beliefs (or knowledge) are too trivial to be epistemic goals. My account of epistemic value is in terms of goodness of epistemic kinds, which rejects (i). An epistemic kind is an evaluative kind—a kind that determines its own evaluative standards—whose evaluative standards are truth-directed: e.g. a belief is good qua belief if true. I argue that my account is immune from the triviality objection. Moreover, since the goodness of an epistemic kind is finally valuable, the account gives us simple solutions to the value problems of knowledge. I develop my own solutions through critically appropriating the virtue-theoretic account, according to which epistemic evaluation is a kind of performance evaluation, which rejects (ii). I argue that the value of knowledge consists of the value of epistemic success (true belief) and epistemic competence. Finally, I argue that approaches that focus on the evaluation of belief cannot explain epistemic normativity. Instead, we need an approach that focuses on the evaluation of person, which rejects (ii). I argue that conforming to epistemic norms is part of what makes us good qua person. The goodness of person qua person is an intrinsic value and able to provide pro tanto reasons for a person to be epistemically good qua person, which is the ground of epistemic normativity. Overall, there are two main differences between my account and the mainstream account: first, the purpose of epistemic evaluation is about good cognitive performances rather than good beliefs; and, second, what grounds epistemic normativity is the goodness of a person qua person rather than the goodness (or correctness) of belief qua belief. The upshot of my account is that the focus of epistemology should be on questions such as ‘What is an epistemically good person?’ and ‘What makes a person epistemically good qua person?’ Furthermore, my account shows that epistemic normativity is not distinct from ethical normativity. That is, the question ‘What is an epistemically good person?’ is part of the question ‘What is a good person?’ and a reason why we should be an epistemically good person is consequently a reason why we should be a good person.
Supervisor: Whiting, Daniel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General)