According to robust virtue epistemology (RVE), knowledge is type-identical with a particular species of cognitive achievement. The identification itself is subject to some criticism on the (alleged) grounds that it fails to account for the anti-luck features of knowledge. Although critics have largely focused on environmental luck, the fundamental philosophical problem facing RVE is that it is not clear why it should be a distinctive feature of cognitive abilities that they ordinarily produce beliefs in a way that is safe. We propose a novel way to resolve this problem. Key to our proposal will be an appreciation of different representational states beholden to truth. We suggest these different representational states are distinguished by how, in the proper governance of these states, the twin goods of attaining truth and avoiding error are weighted. Moreover, we explain how varieties of representational states line up with varieties of cognitive achievement such that knowledge, cum cognitive achievement, must be (ordinarily) safe because of the kind of attempt at success that belief is—namely, an attempt that places the premium it does on avoiding error.
KeywordsVirtue epistemology Epistemic luck Cognitive achievement Knowledge Belief
The authors would like to thank audiences at Sheffield, Southampton, Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast for their feedback on related work. Particularly helpful were questions and comments from George Botterill, Stewart Cohen, Joseph Diekemper, Paul Faulkner, Conor McHugh, Steve Makin, Joe Morrison, Yonatan Shemmer, Jonathan Way, Daniel Whiting, Jeremy Watkins, with apologies to those not named. Benjamin Jarvis would like to thank, further, John Turri, for helpful conversations. J. Adam Carter would like to thank Emma C. Gordon for feedback on an earlier draft.
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