DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P059-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 20, 2017, from

4. Recent developments in epistemology

Some recent developments in epistemology question and/or expand on some aspects of the tradition. Virtue epistemology focuses on the characteristics of the knower rather than individual beliefs or collections of beliefs (see Virtue epistemology). Roughly, the claim is that when a true belief is the result of the exercise of intellectual virtue, it is, ceteris paribus, knowledge. Thus, the virtue epistemologist can incorporate certain features of both the normative and naturalist traditions. Virtues, as opposed to vices, are good, highly prized dispositional states. The intellectual virtues, in particular, are just those deep dispositions that produce mostly true beliefs. Such an approach reintroduces some neglected areas of epistemology, for example, the connection of knowledge to wisdom and understanding (see Wisdom).

In addition, there are emerging challenges to certain presuppositions of traditional epistemology. For example, some argue that there is no set of rules for belief acquisition that are appropriate for all peoples and all situations (see Cognitive pluralism; Epistemic relativism). Others have suggested that many of the proposed conditions of good reasoning, for example ‘objectivity’ or ‘neutrality’, are not invoked in the service of gaining truths, as traditional epistemology would hold, but rather they are employed to prolong entrenched power and (at least in some cases) distort the objects of knowledge (see Feminist epistemology).

In spite of these fundamental challenges and the suggestions inherent in some forms of naturalized epistemology that the only interesting questions are empirically answerable, it is clear that epistemology remains a vigorous area of inquiry at the heart of philosophy.

Citing this article:
Klein, Peter D.. Recent developments in epistemology. Epistemology, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P059-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2017 Routledge.

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