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Reflective Knowledge argues for a reflective virtue epistemology based on a kind of virtuous circularity that may be found explicitly or just below the surface in the epistemological writings of Descartes, Moore, and now Davidson, who on Sosa's reading also relies crucially on an assumption of virtuous circularity. Along the way various lines of objection are explored.
In Part I Sosa considers historical alternatives to the view developed in Part II. He begins with G.E. Moore's legendary proof, and the epistemology that lies behind it. That leads to classical foundationalism, a more general position encompassing the indirect realism advocated by Moore. Next he turns to the quietist naturalism found in David Hume, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and P.F. Strawson. After that comes Thomas Reid's commonsense alternative. A quite different option is the subtle and complex epistemology developed by Wilfrid Sellars over the course of a long career. Finally, Part I concludes with a study of Donald Davidson's distinctive form of epistemology naturalized (as Sosa argues).
The second part of the book presents an alternative beyond the historical positions of Part I, one that defends a virtue epistemology combined with epistemic circularity. This alternative retains elements of the earlier approaches, while discarding what was found wanting in them.
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Ernest Sosa has published distinguished papers on metaphysics and epistemology. Most of his publication has been in epistemology, in which area he has published three books and many articles, and has edited several collections. Many of his articles have been reprinted and anthologized, and two were selected by The Philosophers' Annual as among the best ten in their year of publication. He has taught at Brown University and is now at Rutgers University, where he is Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was President in 2004 of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division), and was elected by the Oxford University Faculty to give the John Locke Lectures in 2005. He will give the Carus Lectures in 2010.
Review from previous edition: "It should go without saying that Sosa's book is essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in contemporary epistemology. His distinction between animal and reflective knowledge is a fundamental contribution to the field. The approach he sketches in this readable book is important and defensible. I know of no more plausible approach, no more accessible presentation." --Frederick F. Schmitt, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
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