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G. Naturalism & Normativity > Discussion Paper: Axtell on "The DIalectics of Objectivity"

One topic virtue epistemologists have not much debated is whether intellectual and epistemic virtues are universal or whether they have a history and the epistemic values and virtues recognized in science should be historicized. The forthcoming (2012) special issue of Journal of the Philosophy of History edited by Mark Bevir and Herman Paul will address intersections of historicism, naturalism, and virtue epistemology. My own contribution to this collection is "The Dialectics of Objectivity," the latest draft of which is available by clicking on JB LIBRARY OF PAPERS AND DRAFTS. I will feature other contributors' papers when the edition is published.

Abstract: 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 at work in communities of inquiry; embracing this point helps character epistemologists avoid the charge of objectivism.

Keywords: historiography, virtue epistemology, naturalism, objectivity, thick concepts, underdetermination problem
April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterGuy Axtell