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Intellectual VirtuePerspectives from Ethics and Epistemology$
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Michael DePaul and Linda Zagzebski

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199252732

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199252732.001.0001

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Understanding ‘Virtue’ and the Virtue of Understanding

Understanding ‘Virtue’ and the Virtue of Understanding

(p.203) 9 Understanding ‘Virtue’ and the Virtue of Understanding
Intellectual Virtue

Wayne D. Riggs

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers an alternative to the standard success-oriented epistemological theories by arguing that the highest epistemic good is a state which includes much more than the achievement of true beliefs and the avoidance of false ones. Indeed, it includes much more than knowledge: it requires understanding of important truths. For some of the intellectual virtues are best understood as directed at understanding rather than truth or knowledge. Whether the goal of the intellectual virtues is truth or understanding, reliable success cannot be necessary for the possession of an intellectual virtue given that some of the most impressive intellectual giants such as Aristotle, Newton, and Galileo are not noted for their success. The intellectual virtues should therefore be understood in terms of the values at which they aim, not the values they reliably bring about. The upshot of giving up success oriented approaches in epistemology will provide greater clarity in understanding intellectual virtues.

Keywords:   Aristotle, character traits, epistemic value, epistemic virtues, epistemic reliability, moral virtues, Wayne Riggs, the skopos, understanding, wisdom

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