[lit-ideas] Virtue Epistemology/Ethics

  • From: Walter Okshevsky <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 21:06:46 -0230 (NDT)

Phil Enns wrote (Tue, 15 June 2004):

> Walter Okshevsky wrote:
> "But notice that your account doesn't reveal any possible common root to
> moral and epistemic virtues or moral and epistemic criteria."

> I did mention that both might be rooted in the Good, but I didn't expand
> on that.  What if human life is at its most meaningful when the various
> activities individuals engage in are oriented towards a single end?  In
> the words of Kierkegaard, purity of heart is to will one thing.  On this
> reading, separating the moral and epistemic would be harmful because it
> inhibits the pursuit of that end.  So, to answer your question, the
> different obligations involved in our ascriptions of moral and epistemic
> virtue and vice to persons are based on the degree to which the relevant
> actions are oriented towards an end that satisfactorily encompasses the
> whole of ones life.

I don't think Phil's answer gets us to where we want to be, but its
shortcomings do help to clarify what my question is about. For Phil,
the proferred candidate for the common root underlying
moral and epistemic criteria and virtues is the pursuit of a coherent,
unified life. But such a pursuit bears a necessary connection neither to a
moral life, since morally evil persons may be consistent in the actions
and judgments constituting the "whole of one's life,"  nor to epistemic
virtue or obligation since consistency and coherence are possible
independent of truth or knowledge. Whatever my sought-after "common root"
looks like, it has to originally encompass both the moral and the
epistemic dimension before branching out into the two discrete virtues or
criteria.  Such a root, in other words cannot be simply a necessary
condition for the possibility of both the moral and the epistemic - which
is what I think Phil's suggestion amounts to.

Walter O.
Memorial U
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