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Chapter 2 - Warrant, functions, history

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2014

Abrol Fairweather
Affiliation:
San Francisco State University
Owen Flanagan
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

Virtue epistemology standardly divides into two camps: virtue-reliabilism and virtue-responsibilism. This chapter discusses the epistemic warrant in terms of features of reliable belief-forming faculties. By treating epistemic virtue in terms of functions, and functions in terms of history, it sets out to understand functions, virtues, and warrant. The chapter explicates the etiological functions. The etiological account of functions entails an account of normal functioning and normal conditions. On the etiological account, functions arise when an item produces a beneficial effect that in turn enters into a feedback mechanism, where the mechanism explains why the item persists or reoccurs because of the beneficial effect. The chapter identifies three functional norms for any item with an etiological function: function fulfillment, normal functioning, and function fulfillment because functioning normally. Natural selection requires three elements: variation, copying, and beneficial consequences. Trial-and-error learning involves trials, variations in behavior, errors, negative reinforcers and successes, positive reinforcers.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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