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Virtues of the Mind


  • Page extent: 384 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.827 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 121
  • Dewey version: 20
  • LC Classification: BD176 .Z34 1996
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Knowledge, Theory of
    • Virtue
    • Ethics
    • Prudence

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521570602 | ISBN-10: 0521570603)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$116.00 (P)

Almost all theories of knowledge and justified belief employ moral concepts and forms of argument borrowed from moral theories, but none of them pay attention to the current renaissance in virtue ethics. This remarkable book is the first attempt to establish a theory of knowledge based on the model of virtue theory in ethics. The book develops the concept of an intellectual virtue, and then shows how the concept can be used to give an account of the major concepts in epistemology, including the concept of knowledge.


Part I. The Methodology of Epistemology: 1. Using moral theory in epistemology; 2. Difficulties in contemporary epistemology; 3. More reasons to try a virtue approach: the relations between believing and feeling; 4. An objection to modeling evaluation in epistemology on ethics: the dispute over the voluntariness of belief; 5. Conclusion to Part 1: why center epistemology on the virtues; Part II. A Theory of Virtue and Vice: 1. Types of virtue theories; 2. The nature of a virtue; 3. Intellectual and moral virtue; 4. The two components of intellectual virtue; 5. The importance of phronesis; 6. The definition of deontic concepts; 7. Conclusion to Part 2: the scope of the moral; Part III. The Nature of Knowledge: 1. Knowledge and the ethics of belief; 2. Defining knowledge; 3. Gettier problems; 4. Reliabilism; 5. Plantinga's theory of proper function; 6. Harmonizing internal and external aspects of knowing; 7. Conclusion to Part 3: ethics, epistemology, and psychology; Bibliography; Index.


"Zagzebski's book brims with acute observations and is written in such a way that even those not trained in analytic philosophy will find it an enjoyable read. Her focus on the virtues leads her to avoid a style of philosphy that endlessly h=generates counterexamples and engages in barren possible-worlds speculation. Zagzebski brings the resources of premodern philosophy to bear on contemporary issues and opens up a line of inquiry that could prove as fruitful for epistemology as it already has for ethics. Throughout the book, she notes that this is a large project and invites the assistance of others. It is an invitation Thomists would do well to accept." Thomas S. Hibbs, The Thomist

"The book is clearly written and highly original, and it reveals an impressive familiarity with sources both classical and contemporary. It should be in every university library." H. Pospesel, Choice

" is hard to imagine anyone leaving this book without having been moved to new reflections upon epistemological and ethical issue." Douglas J. Den Uyl, Review of Metaphysics

"...anyone interested in the epistemological status of religious claims cannot afford not to read this book. Zagzebski's book is an important resource for further investigations of the interrelationship between those issues." Alex Hawkins, Modern Theology

" impressive attempt to understand some of the main problems of epistemology...." James A. Montmarquet, Ethics

"In Virtues of the Mind, Linda Zagzebski has set forth what is probably, to date, the most systematic account and defence of virtue epistemology." Dialogue

"Zagzebski offers exemplary scholarship, illuminating analyses, well-reasoned argument, and provocative new lines of thought. Virtues of the Mind deserves the attention of anyone and everyone interested in either ethics or epistemology. It is a work of intellectual virtue." Casey Swank, The Philosophical Review

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