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Guy Axtell
Radford University
  1. "Recent Work in Virtue Epistemology".Guy Axtell - 1997 - American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (1):1--27.
    This article traces a growing interest among epistemologists in the intellectuals of epistemic virtues. These are cognitive dispositions exercised in the formation of beliefs. Attempts to give intellectual virtues a central normative and/or explanatory role in epistemology occur together with renewed interest in the ethics/epistemology analogy, and in the role of intellectual virtue in Aristotle's epistemology. The central distinction drawn here is between two opposed forms of virtue epistemology, virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism. The article develops the shared and distinctive (...)
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  2. Just the Right Thickness: A Defense of Second-Wave Virtue Epistemology.Guy Axtell & J. Adam Carter - 2008 - Philosophical Papers 37 (3):413-434.
    Abstract Do the central aims of epistemology, like those of moral philosophy, require that we designate some important place for those concepts located between the thin-normative and the non-normative? Put another way, does epistemology need ?thick? evaluative concepts? There are inveterate traditions in analytic epistemology which, having legitimized a certain way of viewing the nature and scope of epistemology's subject matter, give this question a negative verdict; further, they have carried with them a tacit commitment to what we argue to (...)
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  3. Thinking Twice About Virtue and Vice: Philosophical Situationism and the Vicious Minds Hypothesis.Guy Axtell - 2017 - Logos and Episteme 8 (1):7-39.
    This paper provides an empirical defense of credit theories of knowing against Mark Alfano’s challenges to them based on his theses of inferential cognitive situationism and of epistemic situationism. In order to support the claim that credit theories can treat many cases of cognitive success through heuristic cognitive strategies as credit-conferring, the paper develops the compatibility between virtue epistemologies qua credit theories, and dual-process theories in cognitive psychology. It also a response to Lauren Olin and John Doris’ “vicious minds” thesis, (...)
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  4. Possibility and Permission? Intellectual Character, Inquiry, and the Ethics of Belief.Guy Axtell - 2014 - In Pihlstrom S. & Rydenfelt H. (eds.), William James on Religion. (Palgrave McMillan “Philosophers in Depth” Series.
    This chapter examines the modifications William James made to his account of the ethics of belief from his early ‘subjective method’ to his later heightened concerns with personal doxastic responsibility and with an empirically-driven comparative research program he termed a ‘science of religions’. There are clearly tensions in James’ writings on the ethics of belief both across his career and even within Varieties itself, tensions which some critics think spoil his defense of what he calls religious ‘faith ventures’ or ‘overbeliefs’. (...)
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  5. The Dialectics of Objectivity.Guy Axtell - 2012 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 6 (3):339-368.
    This paper develops under-recognized connections between moderate historicist methodology and character (or virtue) epistemology, and goes on to argue that their combination supports a “dialectical” conception of objectivity. Considerations stemming from underdetermination problems motivate our claim that historicism requires agent-focused rather than merely belief-focused epistemology; embracing this point helps historicists avoid the charge of relativism. Considerations stemming from the genealogy of epistemic virtue concepts motivate our claim that character epistemologies are strengthened by moderate historicism about the epistemic virtues and values (...)
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  6. Recent Work in Applied Virtue Ethics.Guy Axtell & Philip Olson - 2012 - American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (3):183-204.
    The use of the term "applied ethics" to denote a particular field of moral inquiry (distinct from but related to both normative ethics and meta-ethics) is a relatively new phenomenon. The individuation of applied ethics as a special division of moral investigation gathered momentum in the 1970s and 1980s, largely as a response to early twentieth- century moral philosophy's overwhelming concentration on moral semantics and its apparent inattention to practical moral problems that arose in the wake of significant social and (...)
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  7. William James on Pragmatism and Religion.Guy Axtell - 2018 - In Jacob Goodson (ed.), William James, Moral Philosophy, and the Ethical Life: The Cries of the Wounded. London: Lexington Books. pp. 317-336.
    Critics and defenders of William James both acknowledge serious tensions in his thought, tensions perhaps nowhere more vexing to readers than in regard to his claim about an individual’s intellectual right to their “faith ventures.” Focusing especially on “Pragmatism and Religion,” the final lecture in Pragmatism, this chapter will explore certain problems James’ pragmatic pluralism. Some of these problems are theoretical, but others concern the real-world upshot of adopting James permissive ethics of belief. Although Jamesian permissivism is qualified in certain (...)
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  8. Three Independent Factors in Epistemology.Guy Axtell & Philip Olson - 2009 - Contemporary Pragmatism 6 (2):89–109.
    We articulate John Dewey’s “independent factors” approach to moral philosophy and then adapt and extend this approach to address contemporary debate concerning the nature and sources of epistemic normativity. We identify three factors (agent reliability, synchronic rationality, and diachronic rationality) as each making a permanent contribution to epistemic value. Critical of debates that stem from the reductionistic ambitions of epistemological systems that privilege of one or another of these three factors, we advocate an axiological pluralism that acknowledges each factor as (...)
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  9. Naturalism, Normativity, and Explanation: Some Scientistic Biases of Contemporary Naturalism.Guy Axtell - 1993 - Metaphilosophy 24 (3):253-274.
    The critical focus of this paper is on a claim made explicitly by Gilbert Harman and accepted implicitly by numerous others, the claim that naturalism supports concurrent defense of scientific objectivism and moral relativism. I challenge the assumptions of Harman's ‘argument from naturalism' used to support this combination of positions, utilizing. Hilary Putnam’s ‘companions in guilt’ argument in order to counter it. The paper concludes that while domain-specific anti-realism is often warranted, Harman’s own views about the objectivity of facts and (...)
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  10. Agency Ascriptions in Ethics and Epistemology: Or, Navigating Intersections, Narrow and Broad.Guy Axtell - 2010 - Metaphilosophy 41 (1-2):73-94.
    Abstract: In this article, the logic and functions of character-trait ascriptions in ethics and epistemology is compared, and two major problems, the "generality problem" for virtue epistemologies and the "global trait problem" for virtue ethics, are shown to be far more similar in structure than is commonly acknowledged. I suggest a way to put the generality problem to work by making full and explicit use of a sliding scale--a "narrow-broad spectrum of trait ascription"-- and by accounting for the various uses (...)
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  11. Two for the Show: Anti-Luck and Virtue Epistemologies in Consonance.Guy Axtell - 2007 - Synthese 158 (3):363 - 383.
    This essay extends my side of a discussion begun earlier with Duncan Pritchard, the recent author of Epistemic Luck.Pritchard’s work contributes significantly to improving the “diagnostic appeal” of a neo-Moorean philosophical response to radical scepticism. While agreeing with Pritchard in many respects, the paper questions the need for his concession to the sceptic that the neo-Moorean is capable at best of recovering “‘brute’ externalist knowledge”. The paper discusses and directly responds to a dilemma that Pritchard poses for virtue epistemologies (VE). (...)
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  12. From Internalist Evidentialism to Virtue Responsibilism: Reasonable Disagreement and the Ethics of Belief.Guy Axtell - 2011 - In Trent Dougherty (ed.), Evidentialism and its Discontents. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Evidentialism as its leading proponents describe it has two distinct senses, these being evidentialism as a conceptual analysis of epistemic justification, and as a prescriptive ethics of belief—an account of what one ‘ought to believe’ under different epistemic circumstances. These two senses of evidentialism are related, but in the work of leading evidentialist philosophers, in ways that I think are deeply problematic. Although focusing on Richard Feldman’s ethics of belief, this chapter is critical of evidentialism in both senses. However, I (...)
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  13. Virtue-Theoretic Responses to Skepticism.Guy Axtell - 2008 - In John Greco (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter focuses on the responses that proponents of virtue epistemology (VE) make to radical skepticism and particularly to two related forms of it, Pyrrhonian skepticism and the “underdetermination-based” argument, both of which have been receiving widening attention in recent debate. Section 1 of the chapter briefly articulates these two skeptical arguments and their interrelationship, while section 2 explains the close connection between a virtue-theoretic and a neo-Moorean response to them. In sections 3 and 4 I advance arguments for improving (...)
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  14. Recovering Responsibility.Guy Axtell - 2011 - Logos and Episteme (3):429-454..
    This paper defends the epistemological importance of ‘diachronic’ or cross-temporal evaluation of epistemic agents against an interesting dilemma posed for this view in Trent Dougherty’s recent paper “Reducing Responsibility.” This is primarily a debate between evidentialists and character epistemologists, and key issues of contention that the paper treats include the divergent functions of synchronic and diachronic (longitudinal) evaluations of agents and their beliefs, the nature and sources of epistemic normativity, and the advantages versus the costs of the evidentialists’ reductionism about (...)
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  15.  98
    Means-End Reciprocity and the Aims of Education Debate.Guy Axtell - manuscript
    In the centennial year of John Dewey’s classic, Democracy and Education (1916), this paper revisits his thesis of the reciprocity of means and ends, arguing that it remains of central importance for debate over the aims of education. The paper provides a Dewey-inspired rebuttal of arguments for an ‘ultimate aim,’ but balances this with a development of the strong overlaps between proponents of pragmatism, intellectual virtues education (Jason Baehr) and critical thinking education (Harvey Siegel). Siegel’s ‘Kantian’ justification of critical thinking (...)
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  16. Blind Man's Bluff: Examining the Basic Belief Apologetic.Guy Axtell - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 130 (1):131--152.
    Today we find philosophical naturalists and Christian theists both expressing an interest in virtue epistemology, while starting out from vastly different assumptions. What can be done to increase fruitful dialogue among these divergent groups of virtue-theoretic thinkers? The primary aim of this paper is to uncover more substantial common ground for dialogue by wielding a double-edged critique of certain assumptions shared by `scientific' and `theistic' externalisms, assumptions that undermine proper attention to epistemic agency and responsibility. I employ a responsibilist virtue (...)
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  17. William James on Emotion and Morals.Guy Axtell - forthcoming - In Jacob Goodson (ed.), Cries of the Wounded: William James, Moral Philosophy, and the Moral Life. Rowman & Littlefield.
    The Emotions chapter (XXV) in James' Principles of Psychology traverses the entire range of experienced emotions from the “coarser” and more instinctual to the “subtler” emotions intimately involved in cognitive, moral, and aesthetic aspects of life. But Principles limits himself to an account of emotional consciousness and so there are few direct discussions in the text of Principles about what later came to be called moral psychology, and fewer about anything resembling philosophical ethics. Still, James’ short section on the subtler (...)
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  18. Utilitarianism and Dewey's “Three Independent Factors in Morals”.Guy Axtell - unknown
    The centennial of Dewey & Tuft’s Ethics (1908) provides a timely opportunity to reflect both on Dewey’s intellectual debt to utilitarian thought, and on his critique of it. In this paper I examine Dewey’s assessment of utilitarianism, but also his developing view of the good (ends; consequences), the right (rules; obligations) and the virtuous (approbations; standards) as “three independent factors in morals.” This doctrine (found most clearly in the 2nd edition of 1932) as I argue in the last sections, has (...)
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  19. Bridging a Fault Line: On Underdetermination and the Ampliative Adequacy of Competing Theories.Guy Axtell - 2014 - In Editor Abrol Fairweather (ed.), Virtue Epistemology Naturalized. Synthese Library. pp. 227-245.
    This paper pursues Ernan McMullin‘s claim ("Virtues of a Good Theory" and related papers on theory-choice) that talk of theory virtues exposes a fault-line in philosophy of science separating "very different visions" of scientific theorizing. It argues that connections between theory virtues and virtue epistemology are substantive rather than ornamental, since both address underdetermination problems in science, helping us to understand the objectivity of theory choice and more specifically what I term the ampliative adequacy of scientific theories. The paper argues (...)
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  20. Responsibilism: A Proposed Shared Research Program.Guy Axtell - manuscript
    Originally titled “Institutional, Group, and Individual Virtue,” this was my paper for an Invited Symposium on "Intersections between Social, Feminist, and Virtue Epistemologies," APA Pacific Division Meeting, April 2011, San Diego. -/- Abstract: This paper examines recent research on individual, social, and institutional virtues and vices; the aim is to explore and make proposals concerning their inter-relationships, as well as to highlight central questions for future research with the study of each. More specifically, the paper will focus on how these (...)
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  21.  12
    Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement.Guy Axtell - 2018 - Lanham, MD, USA & London, UK: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield.
    To speak of being religious lucky certainly sounds odd. But then, so does “My faith holds value in God’s plan, while yours does not.” This book argues that these two concerns — with the concept of religious luck and with asymmetric or sharply differential ascriptions of religious value — are inextricably connected. It argues that religious luck attributions can profitably be studied from a number of directions, not just theological, but also social scientific and philosophical. -/- There is a strong (...)
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