Modal Virtue Epistemology

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):61-79 (2018)
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This essay defends a novel form of virtue epistemology: Modal Virtue Epistemology. It borrows from traditional virtue epistemology the idea that knowledge is a type of skillful performance. But it goes on to understand skillfulness in purely modal terms — that is, in terms of success across a range of counterfactual scenarios. We argue that this approach offers a promising way of synthesizing virtue epistemology with a modal account of knowledge, according to which knowledge is safe belief. In particular, we argue that the modal elements of the view offer important advantages over traditional virtue epistemology, which assigns a central explanatory role to aptness. At the same time, the virtue epistemological elements of the theory reveal new avenues for overcoming obstacles to traditional modal accounts of knowledge. Finally, we highlight the advantages of Modal Virtue Epistemology over alternative syntheses, such as Pritchard's (2012) hybrid approach.

Author Profiles

Bob Beddor
National University of Singapore
Carlotta Pavese
Cornell University


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