De Minimis Normativism: a New Theory of Full Aptness

Philosophical Quarterly 71 (1):16-36 (2021)
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Abstract

Full aptness is the most important concept in performance-based virtue epistemology. The structure of full aptness, in epistemology and elsewhere, is bi-levelled. At the first level, we evaluate beliefs, like performances, on the basis of whether they are successful, competent, and apt – viz., successful because competent. But the fact that aptness itself can be fragile – as it is when an apt performance could easily have been inapt – points to a higher zone of quality beyond mere aptness. To break in to this zone, one must not merely perform aptly but also in doing so safeguard in skilled ways against certain risks to inaptness. But how must this be done, exactly? This paper has two central aims. First, I challenge the credentials of mainstream thinking about full-aptness by raising some new and serious problems for the view. I then propose a novel account of full aptness – what I call de minimis normativism – which keeps all the advantages of the canonical view, avoids its problems entirely, and offers some additional payoffs.

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J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow

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