Is There a Place for Epistemic Virtues in Theory Choice?

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 366)


This paper challenges the appeal to theory virtues in theory choice as well as the appeal to the intellectual and moral virtues of an agent as determining unique choices between empirically equivalent theories. After arguing that theoretical virtues do not determine the choice of one theory at the expense of another theory, I argue that nor does the appeal to intellectual and moral virtues single out one agent, who defends a particular theory, and exclude another agent defending an alternative theory. I analyse Duhem’s concept of good sense and its recent interpretation in terms of virtue epistemology. I argue that the virtue epistemological interpretation does not show how good sense leads to conclusive choices and scientific progress.


Quantum Mechanic Theory Choice Good Sense Scientific Progress Moral Quality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Abrol Fairweather for inviting me to be part of this volume. I am grateful to Matt Farr, James Ladyman, David Stump and Bryan Roberts for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This work was funded by the British Society for Philosophy of Science and The Royal Institute of Philosophy while the author was at the University of Bristol.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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