Epistemology traditionally focuses on the analysis of central epistemological concepts, such as knowledge, justification, evidence, truth, and belief. But having knowledge is also a matter of acquiring knowledge. And this means that epistemology must also address questions of our conduct – how we should go about finding things out, what it means to be a good inquirer, and so on. This suggests that people can behave badly as epistemic agents. It falls to epistemologists to examine bad epistemic conduct as well.
In her new book, The Mismeasure of the Self: A Study in Vice Epistemology (Oxford UP, 2021), Alessandra Tanesini begins from the observation that good epistemic conduct involves proper appraisal of one’s epistemic condition, including one’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Her book focuses on the ways epistemic self-assessment can go wrong. Along the way, she provides a general theory of epistemic virtue and vice.
Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.