Committee ChairLehrer, Keith
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractEpistemology is an evaluative enterprise. But what should we take to be the primary unit of evaluation? Traditionally, individual beliefs have served as the primary units of epistemic evaluation. I argue that epistemology should instead use a different unit of evaluation--the agent and her character traits. Such a theory is a virtue epistemology.What makes a character trait a virtue? There are two competing answers to this question. The externalist holds that it depends on the relationship between the character trait and the world. The internalist holds that it depends on the ways the character trait motivates us to respond to our perceptions of the world. I argue, contrary to recent developments in virtue epistemology, that we should accept an internalist conception of virtue.How universal are the standards for virtue and vice? Rather than holding that standards are universal and do not depend on context, the contextualist holds that the standards for virtue and vice vary depending on the particulars of the context. I argue for a contextualist version of virtue epistemology, and show why context-sensitive virtue theory is superior to other potential versions of contextualism.Finally, I apply the developed notion of a contextually-sensitive, internalist virtue epistemology to two intriguing areas in epistemology. I argue that my view is better able to account for certain otherwise puzzling phenomena, including questions about the epistemic relevance of the testimony of others and about how we could have the capacities with reasoning about probability that we routinely exhibit.