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Epistemology$
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Ernest Sosa

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183268

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183268.001.0001

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Descartes’s Pyrrhonian Virtue Epistemology

Descartes’s Pyrrhonian Virtue Epistemology

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter One Descartes’s Pyrrhonian Virtue Epistemology
Source:
Epistemology
Author(s):

Ernest Sosa

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691183268.003.0001

This chapter discusses how Descartes uses his principle of clarity and distinctness to raise his first-order judgments to the scientia level. Error is what one must avoid, not just falsity; so he seeks not just truth but also aptness. You are to assure yourself that you attain such aptness, which is required for confidence that you avoid error and attain certainty. But this assurance is forthcoming only with assurance that the operative source of your judgment is indeed a reliable-enough competence. This raises an issue of circularity, also known as the Cartesian Circle. The chapter shows how this circle also affects contemporary virtue epistemology when it postulates a level of reflective knowledge above that of animal knowledge.

Keywords:   Descartes, Cartesian Circle, clarity, distinctness, scientia, error, aptness, virtue epistemology, animal knowledge

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