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Contemporary cognitive science clearly tells us that attention is modulated for speech and action. While these forms of goal-directed attention are very well researched in psychology, they have not been sufficiently studied by epistemologists. In this book, Abrol Fairweather and Carlos Montemayor develop and defend a theory of epistemic achievements that requires the manifestation of cognitive agency. They examine empirical work on the psychology of attention and assertion, and use it to ground a normative theory of epistemic achievements and virtues. The resulting study is the first sustained, naturalized virtue epistemology, and will be of interest to readers in epistemology, cognitive science, and beyond.
An epistemic virtue is a personal quality conducive to the discovery of truth, the avoidance of error, or some other intellectually valuable goal. Current work in epistemology is increasingly value-driven, but this volume presents the first collection of essays to explore whether virtue epistemology can also be naturalistic, in the philosophical definition meaning 'methodologically continuous with science'. The essays examine the empirical research in psychology on cognitive abilities and personal dispositions, meta-epistemic semantic accounts of virtue theoretic norms, the role of emotion in knowledge, 'ought-implies can' constraints, empirically and metaphysically grounded accounts of 'proper functioning', and even applied virtue epistemology in relation to education. Naturalizing Epistemic Virtue addresses many core issues in contemporary epistemology, presents new opportunities for work on epistemic abilities, epistemic virtues and cognitive character, and will be of great interest to those studying virtue ethics and epistemology.
This is the introductory chapter of the book, which aims to launch a powerful and largely unexplored position in epistemology, naturalized virtue epistemology. Many of the chapters in the book examines empirical findings on the nature of cognitive dispositions and personality traits (Alfano, Battaly, Miller, Pritchard), and this is clearly one direction for naturalized virtue epistemology to take. The book also examines two significant worries for a would-be naturalized virtue epistemology. One problem a naturalistic turn might create for virtue epistemology is the persistent worry about normativity in naturalistic theories. A second worry is that the relevant results from the sciences will signal bad news for virtue epistemology. The book addresses a wide range of issues relevant to the project of developing a naturalized virtue epistemology. Virtue epistemology should be informed by an important development in personality psychology called the Big Five personality traits or Five- Factor Model of traits.
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.