Philosophical Papers

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Expanding Epistemology: A Responsibilist Approach

G Axtell


The first section of this paper asks why we need, or what would motivate, a
meaningful expansion of epistemology. It answers with three critical arguments found in
the recent literature, which each purport to move us some distance beyond the
preoccupations of ‘post-Gettier era' analytic epistemology. These three—the ‘epistemic
luck,' ‘epistemic value' and ‘epistemic reconciliation' arguments associated with Duncan
Pritchard, Jonathan Kvanvig, and Michael Williams, respectively—each carry this
implication of needed expansion by functioning as forceful ‘internal critiques' of the
tradition. The second section of the paper asks what specific directions an expanded field of
epistemology should take. While this is taken as an open question for debate, the
expansion suggested here remains continuous with the analytic tradition, while also
underlining the centrality of the acquired or ‘reflective' intellectual virtues in meeting the
burdens of the three arguments. Responsibilism, as here understood, is not a philosophical
thesis so much as an orientation of commitment to clearing away philosophical
assumptions that systematically obstruct recognition of the importance of empiricallyinformed research programs into the reflective virtues.

Philosophical Papers Vol. 37 (1) 2008: pp. 51-87
AJOL African Journals Online