Legg, C. (2011). Epistemic particularism. Paper presented at the Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference, Otago University, Dunedin, Friday 8 July.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5521
In the last few decades virtue ethicists have profoundly reassessed the goals and theories of mainstream ethics. The traditional focus on whether individual acts are right or wrong has been at least supplemented by discussion of ‘thick’ moral virtues (e.g. patience, courage, honesty...) The even newer discipline of virtue epistemology seeks to extend analogous insights to mainstream epistemology – supplementing the traditional focus on whether individual beliefs are known by discussion of ‘thick’ truth-seeking virtues (e.g. e.g. patience, courage, honesty...) Another recent debate of interest in ethics is moral particularism, the view that moral evaluation is not fully capturable by any set of general principles but requires the ability to respond sensitively to the unique exigencies of moral situations. I inquire whether this view also might be ‘exported’ to epistemology. I suggest that it can and should be, and that this is in fact embodied in the maxim of classical American pragmatism that to truly understand an idea, one must be able to apply it in specific cases.
© 2011 C. Legg