Faculty Publications


Evaluational internalism, epistemic virtues, and the significance of trying

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Journal of Philosophical Research



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While there is general agreement about the list of epistemic virtues, there has been much controversy over what it is to be an epistemic virtue. Three competing theories have been offered: evaluational externalism, evaluational internalism, and mixed theories. A major problem with internalism, the focus of this paper, is that it disconnects the value of epistemic virtue from actual success in the real world (the Disconnection Problem). Relying on a novel thesis about the relation of "trying" and "exercise of virtue," James Montmarquet (1993; 2000) has offered, to my knowledge, the only solution to this problem. In this paper, I evaluate this solution by deriving from it an important implication and arguing that, if examined in the light of the recent work on self-control in philosophy and psychology, this implication proves problematic. I conclude by drawing a general lesson about the prospects of internalism and suggesting that in the absence of a satisfactory solution to the disconnection problem, externalism and mixed theories become more attractive.

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