In Ian James Kidd, Heather Battaly & Quassim Cassam (eds.), Vice Epistemology: Theory and Practice. Routledge (2020)

Emily Sullivan
Eindhoven University of Technology
Mark Alfano
Macquarie University
Epistemologists have addressed a variety of modal epistemic standings, such as sensitivity, safety, risk, and epistemic virtue. These concepts mark out the ways that beliefs can fail to track the truth, articulate the conditions needed for knowledge, and indicate ways to become a better epistemic agent. However, it is our contention that current ways of carving up epistemic modality ignore the complexities that emerge when individuals are embedded within a community and listening to a variety of sources, some of whom are intentionally engaged in deception or bullshit. In this context we want our beliefs to be secure. In this paper we translate the epistemic modal standing of safety into a framework appropriate for social epistemology and argue for the importance of epistemic network-security and belief-security to be added to this framework. We discuss the virtues that are salient for promoting network-security and the vices that undermine it. In particular, we highlight monitoring, adjusting, and restructuring virtues and vices. Importantly, each of these vices can be other-regarding or self-regarding. For example, one tempting way of dealing with insecurity within a network is to completely cut oneself off from biased sources. However, we argue that this is a self-regarding restructuring vice because it closes oneself off from opportunities for epistemic growth. By contrast, an other-regarding restructuring vice would be to cut off others from hearing from sources of information that would make their network more secure.
Keywords social epistemology  vice epistemology  virtue epistemology  modal epistemology
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