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Battaly, Heather, , . Developing virtue and rehabilitating vice:Worries about self-cultivation and self-reform
2016, Journal of Moral Education, 45(2): 207-222.
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Added by: Rie Iizuka, Contributed by:

Abstract: Aristotelian virtue theorists have emphasized the role of the self in developing virtue and in rehabilitating vice. But this article argues that, as Aristotelians, we have placed too much emphasis on self-cultivation and self-reform. Self-cultivation is not required for developing virtue or vice. Nor will sophia-inspired self-reform jumpstart change in the vicious person. In each case, the external environment has an important role to play. One can unwittingly acquire virtues or vices from one’s environment. Likewise, a well-designed environment may be the key ingredient for jumpstarting change in the vicious person. Self-cultivation and late-stage self-reform are not ruled out, but the role of the self in character development and rehabilitation is not as exalted as we might have thought.

Comment: This is an interesting article offering a new view on promoting virtue and avoiding vice. Battaly believes that self-cultivation is not a necessary component of virtue. While her view is against most of virtue theories offered in the past, it is well founded and likely to provoke controversy in class.

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Battaly, Heather, , . Epistemic Self-Indulgence
2010, Metaphilosophy 41(1): 214-234.
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Abstract: I argue in this essay that there is an epistemic analogue of moral self-indulgence. Section 1 analyzes Aristotle’s notion of moral temperance, and its corresponding vices of self-indulgence and insensibility. Section 2 uses Aristotle’s notion of moral self-indulgence as a model for epistemic self-indulgence. I argue that one is epistemically self-indulgent only if one either: (ESI1) desires, consumes, and enjoys appropriate and inappropriate epistemic objects; or (ESI2) desires, consumes, and enjoys epistemic objects at appropriate and inappropriate times; or (ESI3) desires and enjoys epistemic objects too frequently, or to an inappropriately high degree, or consumes too much of them. We need not look far to locate the epistemically self-indulgent: philosophers, especially skeptics, are likely candidates.

Comment: This is an interesting article offering an analysis on the concept of an intellectual vice: epistemic self-indulgence. It will give the students an overview of the concept of intellectual self-indulgence, and an initial idea of how we could understand and work on individual vices. By providing concrete examples, this paper would make it easier for students to understand what virtue epistemology aims to achieve.

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Battaly, Heather, , . Virtue Epistemology
2008, Philosophy Compass 3(4): 639-663.
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Abstract: What are the qualities of an excellent thinker? A growing new field, virtue epistemology, answers this question. Section I distinguishes virtue epistemology from belief-based epistemology. Section II explains the two primary accounts of intellectual virtue: virtue-reliabilism and virtue-responsibilism. Virtue-reliabilists claim that the virtues are stable reliable faculties, like vision. Virtue-responsibilists claim that they are acquired character traits, like open-mindedness. Section III evaluates progress and problems with respect to three key projects: explaining low-grade knowledge, high-grade knowledge, and the individual intellectual virtues.

Comment: This is a very helpful survey article on virtue epistemology covering works published between 1990 to early 2000s. This paper is most appropriate for beginners, offering an overview of the main problems and helping understand different positions of virtue epistemology.

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Zagzebski, Linda, , . On Epistemology
2009, Wadsworth.
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Publisher’s Note: What is knowledge? Why do we want it? Is knowledge possible? How do we get it? What about other epistemic values like understanding and certainty? Why are so many epistemologists worried about luck? In ON EPISTEMOLOGY Linda Zagzebski situates epistemological questions within the broader framework of what we care about and why we care about it. Questions of value shape all of the above questions and explain some significant philosophical trends: the obsession with answering the skeptic, the flight from realism, and the debate between naturalism and anti-naturalism. THE WADSWORTH PHILOSOPHICAL TOPICS SERIES (under the general editorship of Robert Talisse, Vanderbilt University) presents readers with concise, timely, and insightful introductions to a variety of traditional and contemporary philosophical subjects. With this series, students of philosophy will be able to discover the richness of philosophical inquiry across a wide array of concepts, including hallmark philosophical themes and themes typically underrepresented in mainstream philosophy publishing. Written by a distinguished list of scholars who have garnered particular recognition for their excellence in teaching, this series presents the vast sweep of today’s philosophical exploration in highly accessible and affordable volumes. These books will prove valuable to philosophy teachers and their students as well as to other readers who share a general interest in philosophy.

Comment: Zagzebski offers a very approachable overview of main issues in Epistemology. Particularly useful in undergraduate teaching are: Chapter 1 which provides a general introduction focusing on the relationship between knowing and caring; Chapter 2 which introduces scepticism and presents some contemporary responses to it; and Chapter 5 which introduces Gettier problems. The remaining chapters expand on those topics and offer an overview of virtue epistemology.

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