Duncan Pritchard on the Epistemic Value of Truth: Revision or Revolution?

Philosophia 51 (2):821-833 (2022)
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Abstract

In this paper, I assess Duncan Pritchard’s defense of the “orthodox” view on epistemic normativity. On this view, termed “epistemic value T-monism” (EVTM), only true belief has final value. Pritchard discusses three influential objections to EVTM: the swamping problem, the goal of inquiry problem, and the trivial truths problem. I primarily focus on Pritchard’s defense of the trivial truths problem: truth cannot be the only final epistemic value because we value “trivial” truths less than “significant” truths. In response, Pritchard appeals to epistemic virtue: the virtuous agent desires “substantial” truths, where “substantiality” is a matter of the non-luckiness of the true belief. Thus, what has substantial value, for Pritchard, is well-grounded true belief. Yet, I argue, this moves away from “orthodox” EVTM: this view fails to attribute final epistemic value to non-grounded, accidentally true belief. Aside from giving up EVTM altogether, I suggest this leads to either a revision or revolution. On the revision interpretation, EVTM was always imprecise: what orthodoxy always really cared about was epistemically grounded truth rather than truth simpliciter. On the revolutionary reading, what we really care about, contra orthodoxy, formation of belief in line with virtues rather than truth simpliciter.

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Benjamin McCraw
University Of South Carolina Upstate

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References found in this work

Knowledge, Understanding and Epistemic Value.Duncan Pritchard - 2009 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 64:19-43.
The Place of Truth in Epistemology.Ernest Sosa - 2003 - In Linda Zagzebski & Michael DePaul (eds.), Intellectual Virtue: Perspectives From Ethics and Epistemology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 155-180.
Truth as the Primary Epistemic Goal: A Working Hypothesis.Marian David - 2013 - In Matthias Steup, John Turri & Ernest Sosa (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology (Second Edition). Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 363-377.
Knowing the answer, understanding and epistemic value.Duncan Pritchard - 2008 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 77 (1):325-339.

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