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The Genealogy of Epistemic Virtue Concepts

A Thomas


This paper examines the treatment of thick ethical concepts in Williams's work in
order to evaluate the consistency of his treatment of ethical and epistemic concepts and to
assess whether the idea of a thick concept can be extended from ethics to epistemology. A
virtue epistemology is described modeled on a cognitivist virtue ethics. Williams's
genealogy of the virtues surrounding propositional knowledge (the virtues of ‘truthfulness')
is critically evaluated. It is concluded that this genealogy is an important contribution to
the project of virtue epistemology. Thick concepts must not only feature in the account but
will sustain more of the marks of objectivity than their ethical counterparts. This is so even
on Williams's demanding assumptions.

Philosophical Papers Vol. 37 (3) 2008: pp. 345-369

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eISSN: 0556-8641