Epistemic Virtue in the Midst of Reliable Faculty and Character Trait: A Comparative Approach

Document Type : Research Paper


Philosophy Department, University of Qom


In virtue epistemology, epistemic virtue has been defined in two ways. Ernest Sosa regards it as a reliable faculty, and Linda Zagzebski regards it as a character trait, while both consider virtue as a belief producer, and explain knowledge on the basis of it. This paper considers the different attitudes of philosophers to the definition and characteristics of knowledge as the cause of the aforementioned duality in the analysis of virtue. The definition of knowledge as “justified true belief” that is a passive issue (in Sosa) and as a state beyond the true beliefs, which is the result of voluntary activity (in Zagzebski), ultimately leads to consider epistemic virtue as a power or as a character trait that is necessary for such an activity. Consequently, in spite of the fact that both philosophers maintain that faculties are necessary for “animal knowledge”, their different views on the “reflective knowledge” ultimately leads to two concepts of virtue. Even Sosa’s accepting the role of agential virtues, like mind openness and attention, in judgmental belief does not make any remarkable change in the result of the discussion.


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