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A. Virtue Epistemology > Fairweather on "The Epistemic Value of Good Sense"

I don't think I have yet linked the final published version of Abrol Fairweather's paper, "The Epistemic Value of Good Sense" which follow upon and debate Stump's earlier interpretation of Pierre Duhem's concept of bon sens as a proto-virtue epistemological account of (non-rule-governed) theory choice, and Ivanova's criticisms of that interpretation. A fascinating debate indeed!

Abrol Fairweather, The epistemic value of good sense
Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Volume 43, Issue 1, March 2012, Pages 139–146


Abstract. This paper examines competing interpretations of Pierre Duhem’s theory of good sense recently defended by David Stump and Milena Ivanova and defends a hybrid reading that accommodates the intuitions of both readings. At issue between Stump and Ivanova is whether Duhemian good sense is a virtue theoretic concept. I approach the issue from the broader perspective of determining the epistemic value of good sense per se, and argue for a mitigated virtue theoretic reading that identifies an essential role for good sense in theory choice. I also show that many important issues in both philosophy of science and ‘mainstream’ value driven epistemology are illuminated by the debate over the epistemic value of good sense. In particular, philosophical work on the nature of cognitive character, rule governed rationality and the prospects of epistemic value t-monism are illuminated by virtue theoretic readings of Duhemian good sense.

Milena Ivanova
Pierre Duhem’s good sense as a guide to theory choice
Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Volume 41, Issue 1, March 2010, Pages 58–64

This paper examines Duhem’s concept of good sense as an attempt to support a non rule-governed account of rationality in theory choice. Faced with the underdetermination of theory by evidence thesis and the continuity thesis, Duhem tried to account for the ability of scientists to choose theories that continuously grow to a natural classification. I will examine the concept of good sense and the problems that stem from it. I will also present a recent attempt by David Stump to link good sense to virtue epistemology. I will argue that even though this approach can be useful for the better comprehension of the concept of good sense, there are some substantial differences between virtue epistemologists and Duhem. In the light of this reconstruction of good sense, I will propose a possible way to interpret the concept of good sense, which overcomes the noted problems and fits better with Duhem’s views on scientific method and motivation in developing the concept of good sense.

Good sense; Natural classification; Novel predictions; Theoretical virtues; Unification; Virtue epistemology

David J. Stump, Pierre Duhem’s virtue epistemology
Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Volume 38, Issue 1, March 2007, Pages 149–159

Duhem’s concept of ‘good sense’ is central to his philosophy of science, given that it is what allows scientists to decide between competing theories. Scientists must use good sense and have intellectual and moral virtues in order to be neutral arbiters of scientific theories, especially when choosing between empirically adequate theories. I discuss the parallels in Duhem’s views to those of virtue epistemologists, who understand justified belief as that arrived at by a cognitive agent with intellectual and moral virtues, showing how consideration of Duhem as a virtue epistemologist offers insights into his views, as well as providing possible answers to some puzzles about virtue epistemology. The extent to which Duhem holds that the intellectual and moral virtues of the scientist determine scientific knowledge has not been generally noticed.

Pierre Duhem; Good sense; Virtue epistemology; Underdetermination
April 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterGuy Axtell