AbstractThe new field of virtue epistemology has implications for educational debate. In order to identify these implications, I explore the seminal writings of Ernest Sosa and Linda Zagzebski and develop them in directions promising for education. Both see knowledge as true belief arising in a socially-situated cognitive agent from epistemically-virtuous acts, rather than the traditional construal of true belief to which an idealised, individual knower has a duty to assent because of particular properties of the belief. They differ in emphasis, however: Sosa stresses reliable mechanisms, while Zagzebski accentuates virtuous motivation. In dealing with Sosa’s reliabilist virtue epistemology, I analyse and build on his precursor Robert Nozick’s model in ways propitious for education, including an extension of his use of formal logic, and the importation of some concepts from artificial intelligence theory. One significant outcome of my work on reliabilist virtue epistemology is the importance of subjunctive conditionals, and thus a more nuanced view of educational propositional targets, involving both p and ~p. Sosa’s two-tier model of knowledge is also addressed. I compare Zagzebski to her historical forebear Aristotle, and then develop some lines of thought congenial to education. Zagzebski’s responsibilist virtue epistemology leads to named intellectual virtues. I supplement these and show how they can be co-ordinated between teacher and learner. Substantial consideration is also given to other regarding epistemic virtue and to testimony. The model of learning and teaching defended amounts to virtuous belief-modification, carried out by an epistemic agent (the learner), using intellectual virtue to bring his doxastic web into closer cognitive alignment with reality via intersubjective triangulation using the webs of others (particularly that of the teacher). I argue that a combination of the two approaches – virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism – yields a richer, more decent basis for education than rival conceptions, such as technical rationality, can provide.
Moran, Sean (2011) Virtue Epistemology:Some Implications for Education. PhD thesis, Dublin City University: St Patrick's College, Drumcondra.