Virtue Ethics and/or Virtue Epistemology: A Response to Anton Froeyman

Abstract In response to Anton Froeyman’s paper, “Virtues of Historiography,” this article argues that philosophers of history interested in why historians cherish such virtues as carefulness, impartiality, and intellectual courage would do wise not to classify these virtues unequivocally as either epistemic or moral virtues. Likewise, in trying to grasp the roles that virtues play in the historian’s professional practice, philosophers of history would be best advised to avoid adopting either an epistemological or an ethical perspective. Assuming that the historian’s virtuous behavior has epistemic and moral dimensions (as well as aesthetic, political, and other dimensions), this article advocates a non-reductionist account of historical scholarship, which acknowledges that the virtues cherished by historians usually play a variety of roles, depending on the goals they are supposed to serve. Given that not the least important of these goals are epistemic ones, the articles concludes that virtue ethical approaches, to the extent that they are focused on the acquisition of moral instead of epistemic goods, insufficiently recognize the role of virtue in the pursuit of such epistemic aims as knowledge and understanding.