Virtue Ethics and/or Virtue Epistemology: A Response to Anton Froeyman

in Journal of the Philosophy of History
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In response to Anton Froeyman’s paper, “Virtues of Historiography,” this article argues that philosophers of history interested in why historians cherish such virtues as carefulness, impartiality, and intellectual courage would do wise not to classify these virtues unequivocally as either epistemic or moral virtues. Likewise, in trying to grasp the roles that virtues play in the historian’s professional practice, philosophers of history would be best advised to avoid adopting either an epistemological or an ethical perspective. Assuming that the historian’s virtuous behavior has epistemic and moral dimensions (as well as aesthetic, political, and other dimensions), this article advocates a non-reductionist account of historical scholarship, which acknowledges that the virtues cherished by historians usually play a variety of roles, depending on the goals they are supposed to serve. Given that not the least important of these goals are epistemic ones, the articles concludes that virtue ethical approaches, to the extent that they are focused on the acquisition of moral instead of epistemic goods, insufficiently recognize the role of virtue in the pursuit of such epistemic aims as knowledge and understanding.

Virtue Ethics and/or Virtue Epistemology: A Response to Anton Froeyman

in Journal of the Philosophy of History




Herman Paul“Performing History: How Historical Scholarship is Shaped by Epistemic Virtues”History and Theory50 (2011) 1–19.


Peter BurkeThe Renaissance Sense of the Past (London: Arnold1969) still offers a good introduction.


Judith N. ShklarOrdinary Vices (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press1984).


Peter BerkowitzVirtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press1999) p. 4. See also among many other titles Ruth W. Grant Hypocrisy and Integrity: Machiavelli Rousseau and the Ethics of Politics (Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press 1997); Ludwig Beckman The Liberal State and the Politics of Virtue (Stockholm: City University Press 2000); T. William Boxx and Gary M. Quinlivan (eds.) Public Morality Civic Virtue and the Problem of Modern Liberalism (Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmans 2000).


Jeffrey StoutDemocracy and Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press2004) pp. 118–161. Another good example of such border traffic is Paul Blackledge and Kelvin Knight (eds.) Virtue and Politics: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism (Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 2011).


Jason BaehrThe Inquiring Mind: On Intellectual Virtues and Virtue Epistemology (Oxford: Oxford University Press2011) p. 9 note 16.


Linda Trinkaus ZagzebskiVirtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1996) p. 46.


Robert C. Roberts and W. Jay WoodIntellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology (Oxford: Clarendon Press2007) p. 8.


Jonathan L. KvanvigThe Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2003) pp. 185–203.


Heather Battaly“Teaching Intellectual Virtues: Applying Virtue Epistemology in the Classroom,” Teaching Philosopy29 (2006) 191–222. See also Mike Degenhardt “The Ethics of Belief and the Ethics of Teaching” Journal of Philosophy of Education 32 (1998) 333–344; Richard Paul “Critical Thinking Moral Integrity and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues” in Guy Axtell (ed.) Knowledge Belief and Character: Readings in Virtue Epistemology (Lanham MD: Rowan & Littlefield 2000) pp. 163–175.


Bruce MacfarlaneResearching With Integrity: The Ethics of Academic Enquiry (New York; London: Routledge2009); Thomas Söderqvist “Virtue Ethics and the Historiography of Science” Danish Yearbook of Philosophy 32 (1997) 45–64.


Robert Fruin“De onpartijdigheid van den geschiedschrijver,” in Robert Fruin’s verspreide geschriftened. P. J. Blok P. L. Muller and S. Muller Fzn. vol. 9 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff 1904) p. 290 (my translation).


E.g. Miranda FrickerEpistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing (Oxford: Oxford University Press2007) pp. 120–128; Baehr Inquiring Mind (see above n. 8) pp. 206–222.


Steven ShapinA Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England (Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press1994) p. xvi.


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