Acta Analytica

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 295–309 | Cite as

Core and Ancillary Epistemic Virtues

  • Terry Horgan
  • Matjaž Potrč
  • Vojko StrahovnikEmail author


We argue, primarily by appeal to phenomenological considerations related to the experiential aspects of agency, that belief fixation is broadly agentive; although it is rarely (if ever) voluntary, nonetheless, it is phenomenologically agentive because of its significant phenomenological similarities to voluntary-agency experience. An important consequence is that epistemic rationality, as a central feature of belief fixation, is an agentive notion. This enables us to introduce and develop a distinction between core and ancillary epistemic virtues. Core epistemic virtues involve several inter-related kinds of epistemic rationality in belief fixation. Other “habits of mind” pertinent to belief fixation constitute ancillary epistemic virtues. Finally, we discuss the relationship between both kinds of virtues, offering a unified account of epistemic virtuousness.


Epistemic virtuousness Agency Rationality Truth Ancillary epistemic virtues 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. Blackburn, S. (2001). Reason, virtue, and knowledge. In A. Fairweather & L. Zagzebski (Eds.), Virtue epistemology: essays on epistemic virtue and responsibility (pp. 15–29). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Clifford, W. (1877). The ethics of belief. Originally published in Contemporary review, 1877. Reprinted in Lectures and essays (1879). Presently in print in The ethics of belief and other essays (Prometheus Books, 1999).Google Scholar
  3. Doyle, A. C. (1892). The beryl coronet. In The adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Google Scholar
  4. Eflin, J. (2000). The structure of virtue epistemology. Acta Analytica, 15, 73–87.Google Scholar
  5. Eflin, J. (2003). Epistemic presuppositions and their consequences. Metaphilosophy, 34(1/2), 48–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Henderson, D., & Horgan, T. (2011). The epistemological spectrum: at the interface of cognitive science and conceptual analysis. New York: Oxford UP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Henderson, D., Horgan, T., & Potrč, M. (2007). Transglobal evidentialism-reliabilism. Acta Analytica, 22(4), 281–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Henderson, D., Horgan, T., Potrč, M., & Tierney, H. (2017). Nonconciliation in peer disagreement: its phenomenology and its rationality. Grazer Philosophische Studien, 94(1/2), 194–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Horgan, T. (2011). The phenomenology of agency and freedom: lessons from introspection and lessons from its limits. Humana Mente 15 (Jan. 27, 2011), 77–97. Issue: Agency: from embodied cognition to free will. Available at:
  10. Horgan, T. (2012). Introspection about phenomenal consciousness: running the gamut from infallibility to impotence. In D. Smythies & D. Stoljar (Eds.), Introspection and consciousness (pp. 405–422). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Horgan, T. (2015). Injecting the phenomenology of agency into the free will debate. In D. Shoemaker (Ed.), Oxford studies in agency and responsibility, 3 (pp. 34–61). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Horgan, T., & Potrč, M. (2010). The epistemic relevance of morphological content. Acta Analytica, 25, 155–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Horgan, T., & Timmons, M. (2009). Moorean moral phenomenology. In S. Nuccetelli & G. Seay (Eds.), Themes from G. E. Moore: new essays in epistemology and ethics (pp. 203–226). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Horgan, T., & Timmons, M. (2010). Mandelbaum on moral phenomenology and moral realism. In I. F. Verstegen (Ed.), Maurice Mandelbaum and American critical realism (pp. 103–126). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Horgan, T., & Timmons, M. (2011). Introspection and the phenomenology of free will: problems and prospects. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 18(1), 180–205.Google Scholar
  16. Mandelbaum, M. (1955). The phenomenology of moral experience. Glencoe, The Free Press.Google Scholar
  17. Montmarquet, J. (1987). Epistemic virtue. Mind, 96, 482–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Montmarquet, J. (1993). Epistemic virtue and doxastic responsibility. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  19. Sellars, W. (1956). Empiricism and the philosophy of mind. In W. Sellars (Ed.), Science, perception, and reality (pp. 129–194). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  20. van Inwagen, P. (1996). ‘It is wrong, everywhere, always, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence’. In J. Jordan & D. Howard-Snyder (Eds.), Faith, freedom, and rationality (pp. 137–153). Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of ArtsUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  3. 3.Faculty of TheologyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

Personalised recommendations