Epistemic virtues

From The Embassy of Good Science

Epistemic virtues

What is this about?

Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge and its relations to concepts and definitions of truth, belief and justification of belief.[1] Virtue is often defined as moral excellence, and epistemic virtues are described as intellectual virtues. A critical, conscientious thinker, could also be described as epistemically virtuous.

  1. Steup M, Zalta EN. Epistemology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2018 Edition. Accessed May 24 2019. Available from: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018/entries/epistemology/

Why is this important?

The ultimate goal of science is to seek truth at the realm of material things. Because of that, science itself cannot be practiced without somehow tapping into the field of epistemology. Ideally, researchers should be attentive, careful, thorough, impartial, open, willing to exchange ideas and aware of their own fallibility. [1] These traits could serve as a preventative measure for research misconduct and other, various practices that are detrimental to science.

  1. Turri J, Alfano M, Greco J. Virtue Epistemology. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2018 Edition. Accessed May 24 2019. Available from: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2018/entries/epistemology-virtue/

For whom is this important?

What are the best practices?

All European Academies (ALLEA) published a revised and updated European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (ECoC), in which it emphasized the importance of addressing ethics and research integrity. The ECoC defines principles and practices of good research, and includes the virtues of reliability, honesty, respect and accountability. Usually philosophers consider honesty and the following characteristics to be epistemic virtues: attentiveness, benevolence (principle of charity), creativity, curiosity, discernment, humility, objectivity, parsimony, studiousness, understanding, warranty, and wisdom. [1]

  1. Pigliucci M. The Virtuous Skeptic. Skeptical Inquirer. 2017;41 (2): 54–57.

Other information

Virtues & Values
Good Practices & Misconduct