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The problem of epistemic values


School of Divinity, History & Philosophy

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Dr L Moretti , Dr F Luzzi No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Socrates, in Plato’s Dialogue Meno, famously asked why we should valuate knowledge more than mere true belief. This question has opened the ongoing philosophical debate about epistemic values. According to contemporary virtue epistemologists (e.g. Greco, Sosa and Zagzebski), knowledge is more valuable than true belief because it coincides with true belief arising from a successful exercise of the subject’s cognitive ability, or with true belief motivated by virtuous traits and dispositions of the subject. Other philosophers, however, have rejected the thesis that knowledge is an ultimate epistemic value, or the only one we have. Some think that acquiring true beliefs and avoiding false beliefs is the real ultimate epistemic goal (e.g. Foley), and others claim that epistemic rationality is valuable independently of knowledge and true belief (e.g. Kelly). Finally, some philosophers have argued that the sole ultimate epistemic value is understanding, rather than knowledge or true belief (e.g. Pritchard and Kvanvig).

The project aims to critically engage with this debate. The investigation should ideally find answers for the following five questions:

1) What epistemic values are there?

2) Are epistemic values intrinsically valuable or valuable because of their practical benefits? (Links with the problems of the pragmatic encroachment of epistemic notions, the debate on epistemic virtues and vices, and ethics of beliefs could be explored).

3) Are epistemic values subjective or objective?

4) Is there one ultimate epistemic value (monism), or more than one ultimate epistemic value (pluralism)?

5) What relations are there between ultimate and non-ultimate epistemic values (e.g. constitutive or instrumental)?


Funding Notes

This scholarship is open to students subject to the higher (overseas) rate of fees. This will include EU applicants subject to the higher rate.
The value of the fee waiver will be £12,500 per academic year. The successful candidate will be liable for the home portion of fees, £4,500, fixed for the duration of their programme, and also receive a stipend of £6,000 per academic year.
This scholarship provides an opportunity to undertake a package of training and career development, including teaching or research assistance, and to join a research network concentrated in a particular field of study.
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