Knowledge from vice: deeply social epistemology

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Abstract

In the past two decades, epistemologists have significantly expanded the focus of their field. To the traditional question that has dominated the debate - under what conditions does belief amount to knowledge? - they have added questions about testimony, epistemic virtues and vices, epistemic trust, and more. This broadening of the range of epistemic concern has coincided with an expansion in conceptions of epistemic agency beyond the individualism characteristic of most earlier epistemology. We believe that these developments have not gone far enough. While the weak anti-individualism we see in contemporary epistemology may be adequate for the kinds of cases it tends to focus on, a great deal of human knowledge production and transmission does not conform to these models. Furthermore, the dispositions and norms that are knowledge-conducive in the familiar cases may not be knowledge-conducive generally. In fact, dispositions that, at an individual level, count as epistemic vices may be epistemic virtues in common social contexts. We argue that this overlooked feature of human social life means that epistemology must become more deeply and pervasively social.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-915
Number of pages29
JournalMind
Volume129
Issue number515
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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