Thursday, July 6, 2017

Gettier & Reliabilism - Zagzebski

(Originally written December 5, 2006)

A person is praiseworthy (justified) for doing an act (having a belief) if it is what a virtuous person probably would do (or believe).

A right act is what a person with phronesis might do. A wrong act is what a person with phronesis would likely not do.

A moral duty is what a person with phronesis would do in specific circumstances.

A justified belief is what a person motivated by intellectual virtue, possessing understanding, might believe.

An unjustified belief is what a person motivated by intellectual virtue, possessing understanding, would not believe.

Epistemic duty is what the person who is motivated by intellectual virtue and possesses understanding would believe in a specific situation.

"A belief is an epistemic duty (strong sense) in certain circumstances if and only if it is unjustified not to believe it... A belief is an epistemic duty (weak sense) in certain circumstances if and only if it is unjustified to disbelieve it" (Zagzebski, 242).

"An act is a moral duty (strong sense) in certain circumstances if and only if it is wrong not to do it. An act is a moral duty (weak sense) in certain circumstances if and only if it is wrong to choose to reject it" (Zagzebski, 243).

A justified belief is what some one with phronesis might believe.

An unjustified belief is what someone with phronesis would not believe.

A belief is a duty when a person with phronesis would believe.

6.2 Acts of Virtue

An act is an act of virtue if it rises out of the motivational component of the virtue, it is something a person with that virtue would do, and it is successful in bringing the end of that specific virtue to fruition.

Part III - The nature of knowledge

2.1 The definition

An act of intellectual virtue is an act that arises out of the motivational component of that virtue, is something a person with that virtue would probably do in the circumstances, is successful in achieving the ends of that virtue, and causes the agent to acquire a true belief (cognitive contact with reality)

Definition 1 of knowledge: "Knowledge is a state of cognitive contact with reality arising out of acts of intellectual virtue" (Zagzebski, 270).

Definition 2 of knowledge: "Knowledge is a state of true belief arising out of acts of intellectual virtue" (Zagzebski, 271).

Definition 3 of knowledge: "Knowledge is a state of belief arising out of acts of intellectual virtue" (Zagzebski, 271).

Gettier Problems:

The problem for justified true belief theories

"Gettier problems arise when it is only by chance that a justified true belief is true" (Zagzebski, 283).

The Gettier problem has forced knowledge to see one of two things:
1) Justified true belief is not sufficient for knowledge and must have an extra component to make it sufficient
2) Justification must be reconciled to make it sufficient

Zagzebski sees both choices as inadequate because neither can escape the Gettier problem.

Internalism and externalism both suffer from the Gettier problem.

Smith owns a Ford or Brown is in Barcelona is an example of a Gettier problem when there is no problem internally, but something causes a false belief, but somehow it is still true.

Reliablism also faces the Getteir problem, in spite of what Alvin Plantinga states.

True beliefs can arise accidentally and thus we have Gettier problems.

Plantinga argues that knowledge is had when the belief warrants it.

Warranty admits degrees, but either the warrant is or is not sufficient for knowledge.

Undefeatable justified belief is immune to Gettier problems because undefeatability entails truth.

Strong defensibility conditions however threaten the assumption of independence of the justification condition and the truth condition for knowledge.

Truth conditions for knowledge must be entailed by the other conditions.

Nearly every contemporary theory of knowledge analyzes knowledge as true belief that is justified or warranted.

3.2 Resolving Gettier problems in a virtue theory

Zagzebski states that there are moral analogues of the Gettier problem. She says that a moral act can be performed but it not be virtuous it is moral luck, just like Gettier justified true beef's are epistemic luck.

"Gettier problems in virtue epistemology can be resolved by an analogous move" (Zagzebski, 296).

In Gettier cases the truth is reached by accident. In moral luck cases the right act is done by accident.

"Gettier problems can be avoided if we utilize the concept of an act of intellectual virtue" (Zagzebski, 297).

Acts of intellectual virtues are strictly analogous to acts of moral virtue.

Acts of moral virtue are strongly right in a moral sense; acts of intellectual virtue are strongly justified.

The definition, "knowledge is a state of cognitive contact with reality arising out of acts of intellectual virtue" is immune to Gettier problems.

4. Reliablisim

Zagzebski calls her theory of knowledge a combination of externalist and internalist combinations.

Laurence BonJour would call Zagzebski's theory an externalist one. BonJour calls any theory externalism when some of the justifying factors are external to the agent.

Zagzebski claims that her hybrid theory sets it apart from more radical externalist theories like Plantinga's reliablist proper function theory.

Objections to Reliablism

Purely externalist theories imply that the only thing valuable in an instance of knowledge is the value of the truth that is acquired.

Reliablism does not give sufficient conditions for knowing.

Knowledge has more value than true belief.

The value must lie in something in addition to the value of truth and in addition to the reliable mechanism for acquiring true belief.

Intellectual Virtues - Zagzebski

(Originally written December 3, 2006)

Virtues of the Mind
Linda Zagzebski

4: The two components of intellectual virtues

Each virtue is definable only in terms of its corresponding motivation.

4.1 The motivation for knowledge and reliable success

A distinction between moral and intellectual virtues can be made on their motivational basis.

Intellectual virtues are motivated by motivation for knowledge.

4.1.1 The motivation for knowledge

Hobbes and Spinoza connected the intellectual virtues with the passions and connected them all with a single motivation: self-preservation or power.

The motivation for knowledge is not a basic motive, it is a form of the motivation for power (Hobbes).

Hobbes states that cognitive virtues/vices arise from differences in motivation.

Deficiency in the desire for truth leads to cognitive vices like dogmatism (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Hobbes implies that excess in desire for truth also leads to cognitive vices.

John Dewey believes that we ought to cultivate attitudes to foster better motivation to think more effectively.

Hilary Kornblith and Laurence BonJour introduced a motivational element into the notion of epistemic responsibility. Kornbluth stated, "An epistemically responsible agent desires to have true beliefs, and thus desires to have his beliefs produced by processes which lead to true beliefs, his actions are guided by these desires" (Zagzebski, 174).

James Montmarquet connected a large set of intellectual virtues with the desire for truth.

Montmarquet calls the desire for truth "epistemic conscientiousness" and claims that some intellectual virtues are out of this desire.

4.1.2 The success component of the intellectual virtues.

Ok, it's 2:30 am. I have a 1500-2000 word essay due at 9:00 am on pgs. 232-282. I'm on page 176. I'm screwed. I had such an emotional drain. I lost my wedding ring and then we spent hours looking for it. Thank God somebody found it.

Contemporary epistemology has focused extensively on the concept of a truth conducive belief-forming process.

There is a weak connection between motive and success. John Dewey made notice of it.

Intellectual virtues arise from and serve the motivation to know the truth and are crucial in activities like the arts, crafts and games.

The distinction between intellectual and moral virtues and the distinction between intellectual and practical virtues are both artificial.

Amelie Rarty pointed out that the utility and success of intellectual virtues depend on their becoming habits, but habits can become pathological and idiotic.

The motivation for intellectual virtue involves a desire for possessing true beliefs and avoiding false beliefs.

The reliabilist theory of truth-conduciveness focuses on it as a function of the number of true beliefs and on the proportion of true to false beliefs.

Zagzebski points out that processes that put forth a high percentage of false beliefs can still be truth-conducive if that process leads to a new way of discovering truth.

Self-correction is essential in Zagzebski's truth-conduciveness theory.

C.S. Pierce claims that the Scientific Method operates under a truth-conducive theory similar to Zagzebski's model.

4.1.3 Montmarquet on the virtues and truth conduciveness

Are intellectual virtues knowledge conducive?

"The motivation to know leads to the motivation to act in intellectually virtuous ways" (Zagzebski, 185).

Montmarquet objects to [the motion that intellectual virtues are truth conducive and intellectual vices are not] because:
1) Some intellectual virtues may not be truth conducive even though they would be desired by persons who love the truth
2) Some intellectual virtues not only seem to fail to lead to truth but aren't associated with the desire for truth
3) The history of ideas does not fit with this
4) some vices may arise out of desire for knowledge
5) Some intellectual vices appear to be truth conducive

I'm going to skip to what I need right now. Pg. 187-231 need to be read still.

pg 232 - This is a quick, not through reading

6. The definition of Deontic Concepts

Acts and beliefs arise from moral and intellectual traits

An act is right because it is the sort of act a virtuous person might do according to pure virtue-theory.

6.1 Right acts, justified beliefs

"A right act is what a person who is virtuously motivated, and who has the understanding of the particular situation that a virtuous person would have, might do in like circumstances. A wrong act is what a person who is virtuously motivated, and who has the understanding of the particular situation that a virtuous person would have, would not do in like circumstances. A moral duty is what a person who is virtuously motivated and who has the understanding of the particular situation that a virtuous person would have, would do in like circumstances. That is to say, some thing is a duty if and only if it is wrong not to do it" (Zagzebski, 235)

Virtues of the Mind - Ch. 3

(Originally written December 3, 2006)

Virtues of the Mind
Linda Zagzebski

3. Intellectual and Moral Virtues

3.1 Aristotle's distinction between intellectual and moral virtues

The human cognitive and feeling processes are regarded as distinct and relatively autonomous by Western Philosophers.

Many Western Philosophers have aimed for what Michael Stocker calls a "purified view of the intellect" despite Philosophers like Hume and James showing the connection between feelings/emotions and cognition.

Few philosophers have openly denied Aristotle's division of feelings and cognition.

Spinoza was an exception, he connected the passions and virtue via the ideas of God. No one have unified intellectual and moral virtue like Spinoza.

David Hume insisted that the difference between moral and intellectual virtues was merely verbal. But, Hume's notion of virtue was broader than most other philosophers.

Zagzebski holds that Aristotle's distinction between virtues and other capacities is an important one; but, his division of moral and intellectual virtue is not an important one.

Aristotle divides intellectual virtues into two classes:
1) Art (techne) - theoretical knowledge
2) Practical wisdom (phronesis) - practical knowledge

Aristotle links the two different types of virtues to the two parts of the soul.

The thinking part of the soul commands and the feelings part obeys.

Pascal saw being full of faults as being an evil, but it was worse to be full of faults and unwilling to recognize it.

Self-love weakens the love of truth and leads to self-deception, hypocrisy and other intellectual vices.

"Feelings are involved in intellectual virtues, and intellectual virtues are involved in handling feelings" (Zagzebski, 148).

In addition to distinguishing intellectual virtues from moral ones on the ground that intellectual virtues regulate feelings (an inadequate argument), Aristotle distinguishes them on the basis of how they are acquired.

He holds that intellectual virtues can be taught, whereas moral virtues can only be acquired by practice and training.

Zagzebski holds that both intellectual and moral virtues are learned in stages.

Young people do not possess virtues or vices. We do not start with vice and work up to a virtue.

William James held that it is bad to be too doubtful and too uncritical in holding a belief. He held that the virtue lies in the mean between the two.

Intellectual akrasia (weakness) is higher than a vice. It exists when one knows the good, but does not intellectually actualize it.

Above akrasia is intellectual self-control. This is not a virtue, but it is knowing the bad and not doing it.

Intellectual and moral states (higher to lower)
1) Virtue
2) Self-Control
3) Akrasia
4) Vice

Zagzebski hold that the distinction between moral and intellectual virtues is a real one. She argues that because a person can possess intellectual virtues but no moral virtues (and vice-versa) the distinction is real and not linguistic as Hume and Spinoza held.

Both intellectual and moral virtues are acquired in the same fashion. They both require training and imitation.

Both involve feelings and require one to act virtuously. Both have the states virtue, self-control, akrasia and vice.

3.2 Some connections between intellectual and moral virtues

Zagzebski argues that no-one has offered adequate reason to think moral and intellectual virtues differ any more than one moral virtue differs from another.

The two types of virtue are similar in their natures, similarly acquired and are intimately connected in their operation.

There are logical and causal connections between moral and intellectual virtues.

Moral virtues logically entail some intellectual virtues.

Moral vices can causally inhibit the acquisition of intellectual virtues.

Intellectual failures can be caused by moral failures.

Some virtues have both an intellectual and moral form (i.e. trust and autonomy)

Francis Bacon and John Locke associate intellectual failings with the passions and moral vices.

Francis Bacon states that human understanding is infused by desire and emotion.

Bacon states that there are four types of error in belief formation (he calls the errors 'idols')
1) Idols of the tribe: "The human understanding is like an uneven mirror that cannot truly reflect the rays from objects, but distorts and corrupts the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it (aphorism 41)" (Zagzebski, 164).
2) Idols of the cave: these come from every individual's particularisms, from education, habits and chance
3) Idols of the marketplace: language dictates reason, when reason ought to dictate language. Sometimes language can make philosophy sophistical and inactive.
4) Idols of the theater: errors of this sort come from the fashions of the day. These trends in theology and philosophy can be used to make theory better than truth

Locke's explanation of error comes from his classification of types of men:
1) Those who do not think independently
2) Those who use passion instead of reason as a substitute
3) Those who follow reason, but only seek one source for information and tat source corroborates their opinions

What a Virtue is - Zagzebski

(Originally written December 2, 2006)

Virtues of the Mind continued...

Happy Birthday Dad!

Sudden, radical change of character cannot foster virtue. "Conversion does not produce instant virtue" (Zagzebski, 123).

Creativity and originality as a virtue is problematic for the theory of virtue acquisition by habit.

Thoroughly original people may have the same virtues as other people, but these virtues may be completely different.


"Virtues are traits that are vitally connected with a person's identity" (Zagzebski, 125).

Virtue is the result of moral work performed by the virtue's possessor. The moral work is done through habituation.

2.6 Virtues, feelings and motivations

Both virtues and feelings are states of the soul.

Aristotle distinguishes feelings (pathe) from virtues in 2 ways:
1. We don't praise/reproach men for their feelings
2. Virtues are modes of choice or involve choice

Neither of these two arguments is very convincing.

Response to 1: Hatred, envy, bitterness, etc. are blamable feelings regardless of the circumstances and love, sympathy, compassion, etc. are praiseworthy feelings.

Response to 2: It is too strong to state that virtues are modes of choice. Neither feelings nor virtues are direct results of choice, but both are effected by choice or series of choices.

Virtues are voluntary in a way that a habit is voluntary, not the way an act is voluntary.

Feelings and virtues are not the same, but not because of Aristotle's arguments. Virtues are not feelings because feelings are like acts in that they occur at a specific time.

Virtues may not be feelings, but nearly every moral philosopher has connected the two.

Most philosophers have seen emotions/feelings as bad, in that they cloud practical judgment.

Many view virtues as a way to avoid a negative, not as a way to produce a positive.

Philippa Foot holds motives as a form of emotion that is action-guiding.

Zagzebski sees motive as the point where we see the connection between virtues and feelings/emotions.

Motive is more than an aim or a desire. A motive has a bit of desire for "X" in it, but also includes why "X" is desired. Emotions are frequently felt, but differ from mere sensations.

"A 'motive' in the sense relevant to an inquiry into virtue is an emotion or feeling that initiates and directs action towards an end" (Zagzebski, 131).

Motives are emotions that are nearly constantly in effect, doing their work at moderate or weak levels of intensity.

Motives drive behavior

Motivation is a "persistent tendency to be moved by a motive of a certain kind" (Zagzebski, 132).

Each individual virtue is a sort of motivation to itself.

Virtue possession requires success in obtaining the ends of the motivational component of virtue.

Virtue involves knowledge and understanding in its particular area; a virtuous person cannot be systematically wrong in their judgment.

2.7 General account of virtue

It is difficult to distinguish virtues from feelings and to give a full account of virtue theory because the language is ambiguous and inadequate.

A virtue is:
1) An acquired excellence of the soul in a deep and lasting sense. A vice is an acquired defect of the soul.
2) Virtue (vice) is acquired by work of the possessor
3) Virtue is not simply a skill
4) Virtue has a component of motivation
5) Virtue is a success term
6) Virtue requires knowledge of some nonmoral facts about the world

Virtue's motivation component much reach its end, thus becoming a success term. But, to do so it must use knowledge of nonmoral facts.

A virtue has two main elements:
1) A motivational element
2) An element of reliable success in achieving the ends of said motivational element

A virtue is "a deep and enduring acquired excellence of a person, involving a characteristic motivation to produce a certain desired end and reliable success in bringing about that end" (Zagzebski, 137).

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Virtue or Vice - a Habit

(Originally written November 29, 2006)

Virtues of the Mind continued...

2.5 Virtue and habit: the transformation machine

A virtue is an acquired excellence. A vice is an acquired defect.

A virtue or a vice becomes a second nature of a person.

A virtue/vice is relatively permanent and gradually acquired.

Virtues and vices form a part of who a person is.

Virtue is a kind of habit, but virtue is not identical with habit.

Virtues are acquired through a process of repetition over time.

Aristotle did not hold moral strength or continence as the same as virtue.

A virtuous person has a better form of moral knowledge than a continent person.

"Aristotle claims that moral virtue is logically connected with phronesis and phronesis involves an insight into particulars that may not be fully capture by any general rule" (Zagzebski, 119).

A person's moral identity is intrinsically connected with experience of the world.

Virtue is not a virtue if it is not acquired gradually.

A single act of will is causally insufficient to transform oneself.

David Brown argues that it is impossible for a person to be transformed into a state of moral perfection of death. If there is a heaven, there must be a purgatory.

Skils vs. Virtues

(Originally written November 28, 2006)

Virtues of the Mind continued...

Every virtue must have a corresponding vice.

Virtues are not faculties or natural capacities. Aristotle calls them "states of character".

Skills, like virtues, are acquired excellences, but the two are not the same.

Aristotle's lack of care in distinguishing virtues from skills has led to subsequent mischief.

Phillippa Foot says skills are merely capacities. Gilbert Meilander states that skills can be unpracticed and retained, but virtue has to be constantly practiced.

James Wallace argues that some skills are not worth having, but virtues always are. Wallace argument only proves that not all skills are virtues, but virtues could still be skills. Wallace also states that skills are mastering techniques to do a different task. Virtues help a person perform difficult tasks, but these tasks are not difficult because they are technically difficult. Wallace argues that a skill can be forgotten, but a virtue cannot. Wallace took his idea from Gilbert Ryle and Aristotle. Wallace also argues that a person without a virtue can act consistently wit that virtue, but a person cannot act consistently with a skill he/she does not have.

Zagzebski argues that advice is the contrary of a virtue, not its contradictory. A skill has no contrary, only a contradictory. A vice is not analogous to a lack of skill in that a vice is not merely a lack of a virtue.

Vice, like virtue, is acquired by habituation.

She also argues that an exercise of skill is not essentially connected to anything valuable, whereas a virtue is essentially connected to something valuable.

Zagzebski maintains there are moral skills and moral virtues, and intellectual skills and intellectual virtues.

Moral virtues often have many skills associated with them.

List of moral virtues/moral skills: pg. 113
List of intellectual virtues/intellectual skills: pg. 114

"There are intellectual skills connected with moral virtues and moral skills connected with intellectual virtues" (Zagzebski, 115).

Virtues are psychically prior to skills because the motivational component of a virtue defines it more than external effectiveness.

Virtues are broader than skills.

von Wright argued that skills are tied to specific activities, whereas there is no essential tie between virtue and a specific activity.

Virtues are strongly connected to Motivational structure.

Zagzebski on what is virtue

(Originally written November 27, 2006)

Virtues of the Mind
Linda Zagzebski

"Although a virtue is always a good thing for a person to have, then, there is a complication in that equal degrees of a virtuous trait are not always associated with equal degrees of internal good in the agent" (Zagzebski, 96).

This concept has existed since Aristotle's golden mean being relative to each person.

Intellectual virtues are similar to this, some people do their best work by "careful plodding" and others do their best work in "Exuberant intellectual impetuousness"

Zagzebski states that phronesis (practical wisdom) is an exception to this rule because it is a higher-order virtue.

Nietzsche maintains that virtues are not good for their possessor. A virtue makes its possessor the victim of the virtue.

Plato held that virtues are good for the possessor.

Alasdair MacIntyre holds that the benefit of a virtue is intrinsically valuable to its possessor by definition. MacIntyre defines virtue as "an acquired quality the possession and exercise of which tends to enable us to achieve those goods which are internal to practices and the lack of which effectively prevents us from achieving any such goods" (Zagzebski, 97-98).

Zagzebski applies MacIntyre's definition of virtues to intellectual virtues.

Virtues are good for the possessor and for the world. Virtues are good internally and externally.

Zagzebski holds that a virtue is good, but not because it increases the goodness of its possessor and the goodness for the world, but because it makes the possessor closer to the ideal level of admirability and the world closer to a high level of desirability.

Virtue is related to the good in a number of ways:
1) A person is good through the possession of virtue
2) A person who possess a virtue is closer to the good
3) The world is closer to the good because of #2
4) A virtue increases the possessor's moral worth

2.3 Virtues distinguished from natural capacities

The narrower conception of virtue maintains that virtue is acquired.

Phillippa Foot states nothing is virtue unless it involves the will and resistance to contrary temptation.

G.H. von Wright states that the virtuous person is no longer susceptible to temptation like he/she was at one point.

von Wright and Foot state virtue is not a natural trait and the opposite of virtue is actually the natural state of humanity. Zagzebski believes this is too strong.