Virtue epistemology and epistemic luck

Duncan Pritchard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The recent movement towards virtue-theoretic treatments of epistemological concepts can be understood in terms of the desire to eliminate epistemic luck. Significantly, however, it is argued that the two main varieties of virtue epistemology are responding to different types of epistemic luck. In particular, whilst proponents of reliabilism-based virtue theories have been focusing on the problem of what I call "veritic" epistemic luck, non-reliabilism-based virtue theories have instead been concerned with a very different type of epistemic luck, what I call "reflective" epistemic luck. It is argued that, prima facie at least, both forms of epistemic luck need to be responded to by any adequate epistemological theory. The problem, however, is that one can best eliminate veritic epistemic luck by adducing a so-called safety-based epistemological theory that need not be allied to a virtue-based account, and there is no fully adequate way of eliminating reflective epistemic luck. I thus conclude that this raises a fundamental difficulty for virtue-based epistemological theories, on either construal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-130
Number of pages25
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Epistemology
  • Gettier
  • Luck
  • Reliabilism
  • Responsibilism
  • Virtues


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