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Virtues of the Mind

Linda Zagzebski (Cambridge University Press: September 1996), 365 pages.

Almost all theories of knowledge and justified belief employ moral concepts and forms of argument borrowed from moral theories, but none of them pay attention to the current renaissance in virtue ethics. This remarkable book is the first attempt to establish a theory of knowledge based on the model of virtue theory in ethics. The book develops the concept of an intellectual virtue, and then shows how the concept can be used to give an account of the major concepts in epistemology, including the concept of knowledge. "Zagzebski’s book brims with acute observations and is written in such a way that even those not trained in analytic philosophy will find it an enjoyable read. Her focus on the virtues leads her to avoid a style of philosphy that endlessly generates counterexamples and engages in barren possible-worlds speculation. Zagzebski brings the resources of premodern philosophy to bear on contemporary issues and opens up a line of inquiry that could prove as fruitful for epistemology as it already has for ethics. Throughout the book, she notes that this is a large project and invites the assistance of others. It is an invitation Thomists would do well to accept."  ~ Thomas S. Hibbs, The Thomist

Table of Contents

    • Acknowledgments
    • Introduction
  • Pt. I    The methodology of epistemology    1
    • 1    Using moral theory in epistemology    3
    • 2    Difficulties in contemporary epistemology    29
    • 3    More reasons to try a virtue approach: the relations between believing and feeling    51
    • 4    An objection to modeling evaluation in epistemology on ethics: the dispute over the voluntariness of belief    58
    • 5    Conclusion to Part I: why center epistemology on the virtues?    73
  • Pt. II    A theory of virtue and vice    77
    • 1    Types of virtue theories    78
    • 2    The nature of a virtue    84
    • 3    Intellectual and moral virtues    137
    • 4    The two components of intellectual virtues    165
    • 5    The importance of phronesis    211
    • 6    The definition of deontic concepts    232
    • 7    Conclusion to Part II: the scope of the moral    255
  • Pt. III    The nature of knowledge    259
    • 1    Knowledge and the ethics of belief    260
    • 2    Defining knowledge    264
    • 3    Gettier problems    283
    • 4    Reliabilism    299
    • 5    Plantinga’s theory of proper function    319
    • 6    Harmonizing internal and external aspects of knowing    329
    • 7    Conclusion to Part III: ethics, epistemology, and psychology    334
    • Bibliography    341
    • Name index    359
    • Subject index    362