, Volume 190, Issue 17, pp 3715–3729 | Cite as

Knowledge and the value of cognitive ability

  • J. Adam CarterEmail author
  • Benjamin Jarvis
  • Katherine Rubin
Original Paper


We challenge a line of thinking at the fore of recent work on epistemic value: the line (suggested by Kvanvig in The value of knowledge and the pursuit of understanding, 2003 and others) that if the value of knowledge is “swamped” by the value of mere true belief, then we have good reason to doubt its theoretical importance in epistemology. We offer a value-driven argument for the theoretical importance of knowledge—one that stands even if the value of knowledge is “swamped” by the value of true belief. Specifically, we contend that even if knowledge itself has no special epistemic value, its relationship to other items of value—cognitive abilities—gives ample reason to locate the concept at the very core of epistemology.


Knowledge Epistemic value Cognitive ability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alston W. (2005) Beyond ‘justification’: Dimensions of epistemic evaluation. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  2. Battaly, H. (2004). Must the intellectual virtues be reliable? INCP Session Paper
  3. Carter, J.A. (2011). A problem for Pritchard’s anti-luck virtue epistemology. Erkenntnis, 1–23. doi: 10.1007/s10670-011-9315x.
  4. Carter J.A., Jarvis B. (2012) Against swamping. Analysis, 72(4), 690–699CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carter, J.A., Jarvis, B. & Rubin, K. (2012). Knowledge: Value on the cheap. Australasian Journal of Philosophy. doi: 10.1080/00048402.2012.694455.
  6. Code L. (1987) Responsibility. University Press of New England, HanoverGoogle Scholar
  7. Driver J. (2003) The conflation of moral and epistemic virtue. Metaphilosophy 34: 367–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Engel M. Jr. (1992) Is epistemic luck compatible with knowledge. Southern Journal of Philosophy 30: 59–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goldman, A. I., & Olsson, E. J. (2009). Reliabilism and the value of knowledge. In A. Haddock, A. Millar, & D. H. Pritchard (Eds.), Epistemic value (pp. 19–42). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Greco J. (1993) Virtues and vices of virtue epistemology. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23(3): 413–432Google Scholar
  11. Greco, J. (2002). Virtues in epistemology. In P. Moser (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of epistemology (pp. 287–315). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Greco J. (2010) Achieving knowledge. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Hawthorne J. (2004) Knowledge and lotteries. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  14. Hill C., Schechter J. (2007) Hawthorne’s lottery puzzle and the nature of belief. Philosophical Issues 17(1): 102–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jarvis, B. (2012). Knowledge, cognitive achievement and environmental luck (in press).Google Scholar
  16. Kvanvig, J. (1992). The intellectual virtues and the life of the mind. Savage: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  17. Kvanvig J. (2003) The value of knowledge and the pursuit of understanding. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kvanvig, J. (2009a). Responses to critics. In A. Haddock, A. Millar, & D. H. Pritchard (Eds.), Epistemic value (pp. 339–52). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kvanvig, J. (2009b). The value of understanding. In A. Haddock, A. Millar, & D. H. Pritchard (Eds.), Epistemic value (pp. 95–111). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kvanvig, J. (2012). Curiosity and a response-dependent account of the value of understanding. In T. Henning & D. Schweikard (Eds.), Knowledge, virtue, and action. Boston: Routledge Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  21. Lackey J. (2007) Why we don’t deserve credit for everything we know. Synthese 158: 345–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lackey J. (2009) Knowledge and credit. Philosophical Studies 142: 27–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Littlejohn C. (2012) Justification and the truth connection. Cambridge Unviersity Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Montmarquet, J. (1993). Epistemic virtue and doxastic responsibility. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  25. Nelkin D. (2000) The lottery paradox, knowledge, and rationality. The Philosophical Review 109(3): 383–409Google Scholar
  26. Olsson E. (2007) Reliabilism, stability, and the value of knowledge. American Philosophical Quarterly 44(4): 343–355Google Scholar
  27. Pritchard D. (2005) Epistemic luck. Oxford: Oxford University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pritchard D. (2009) Apt belief and epistemic value. Philosophical Studies 143: 407–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pritchard D. (2010) The nature and value of knowledge: Three investigations (with A. Haddock and A. Millar). Oxford: Oxford University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pritchard D. (2012) Anti-luck virtue epistemology. Journal of Philosophy, 109, 247–279Google Scholar
  31. Reed B. (2010) A defense of stable invariantism. Noûs 44: 224–244Google Scholar
  32. Riggs, W. (2004). Insight, openmindedness and understanding (manuscript).Google Scholar
  33. Sosa, E. (2007). A virtue epistemology: Apt belief and reflective knowledge (Vol. 1), Oxford University Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  34. Sosa E. (1991) Knowledge in perspective: Selected essays in epistemology. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sutton J. (2007) Without justification. MIT Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  36. Unger P. (1968) An analysis of factual knowledge. Journal of Philosophy 65: 157–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Weiner, M. (2005). The practical importance of knowledge (such that it is). Delivered at the Central Division meeting of the APA.Google Scholar
  38. Zagzebski L. (1994) The inescapability of gettier problems. The Philosophical Quarterly 44: 65–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zagzebski L. (1996) Virtues of the mind: An inquiry into the nature of virtue and the ethical foundations of knowledge. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zagzebski L. (2003) The search for the source of epistemic good. Metaphilosophy 34(1–2): 12–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Adam Carter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Benjamin Jarvis
    • 2
  • Katherine Rubin
    • 3
  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Queen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  3. 3.Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA

Personalised recommendations