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Saving Pritchard’s anti-luck virtue epistemology: the case of Temp

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Virtue epistemology is faced with the challenge of establishing the degree to which a knower’s cognitive success is attributable to her cognitive ability. As Duncan Pritchard notes, in some cases one is inclined to a strong version of virtue epistemology, one that requires cognitive success to be because of the exercise of the relevant cognitive abilities. In other cases, a weak version of virtue epistemology seems preferable, where cognitive success need only be the product of cognitive ability. Pritchard’s preference, with his anti-luck virtue epistemology, is for the latter. But as Christoph Kelp has recently argued, this preference is not without controversy. Notably, Kelp argues that Pritchard on the basis of his anti-luck virtue epistemology is impelled to cast the wrong judgment in a case that Pritchard himself discusses many times in his writings, the so-called ‘Temp case’. Though Pritchard argues that Temp lacks knowledge because his cognitive success is not a result of his cognitive ability, I concur with Kelp that Pritchard’s epistemology should in fact attribute knowledge to Temp, and show this by locating weaknesses in three distinct arguments Pritchard uses to show that Temp lacks knowledge. I subsequently argue that if Pritchard wishes to persist in denying knowledge to Temp, he should endorse what I call the ‘true description’ requirement. I close the paper by providing an argument for this requirement, controversial though it is.

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Correspondence to Robert Hudson.

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Hudson, R. Saving Pritchard’s anti-luck virtue epistemology: the case of Temp. Synthese 191, 801–815 (2014).

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  • Duncan Pritchard
  • Virtue epistemology
  • Cognitive ability
  • Christoph Kelp
  • Cognitive integration