Philosophical Studies

, Volume 159, Issue 2, pp 241–261

Putting knowledge in its place: virtue, value, and the internalism/externalism debate


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-011-9700-y

Cite this article as:
Olson, P.R. Philos Stud (2012) 159: 241. doi:10.1007/s11098-011-9700-y


Traditionally, the debate between epistemological internalists and externalists has centered on the value of knowledge and its justification. A “value pluralist,” virtue-theoretic approach to epistemology allows us to accept what I shall call the “insight of externalism” while still acknowledging the importance of internalists’ insistence on the value of reflection. Intellectual virtue can function as the unifying consideration in a study of a host of epistemic values, including understanding, wisdom, and what I call “articulate reflection.” Each of these epistemic values is a good internal to inquiry. Thus, an inquiry-based conception of virtue is particularly well suited to help us account for a wide variety of epistemic goods, without reducing the value of those many goods to their contribution to the value of knowledge. Moreover, an inquiry-based conception of virtue can function as the unifying consideration in a general study of value, the scope of which is not restricted to epistemic value.


KnowledgeInternalismExternalismVirtueValueUnderstandingArticulate reflectionInquiry

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA