The nature of knowledge is arguably the central concern of epistemology and unarguably one of the major interests of philosophy from its beginning. Ever since Plato and no doubt long before, knowledge has been held in high regard. Plato called knowledge the most important element in life (Protagoras 352d) and said that the only thing truly evil is to be deprived of it (Protagoras 345b). Even today, few deny that it is the chief cognitive state to which we aspire, and some claim that it is the chief state of any kind to which we aspire. The possession of knowledge is one of life's great joys – or, at least, one of its benefits. In short, knowledge is valuable.
The valuational aspect of knowledge and of the related states of justified, rational, or warranted belief has led to numerous parallels between moral and epistemic discourse. As Roderick Chisholm observed years ago, “many of the characteristics philosophers have thought peculiar to ethical statements also hold of epistemic statements” (1969, p. 4). Since then epistemologists have routinely referred to epistemic duty and responsibility, to epistemic norms and values, and to intellectual virtue. On occasion they also use forms of argument that parallel arguments in ethics. In some cases this is done consciously, but in other cases it appears to be unnoticed, and the epistemological discussion is carried on without attention to the fact that the corresponding discussions in ethics have by now become more advanced.
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