t.a.j. wrote:I study and train myself to look beyond the surface and understand as much as I can about things. In short: I try to be epistemically virtuous in all aspects of my life. And because I do this and in this respect, I do consider myself a better person than many others.
How and why does being epistemically virtuous make one a better person? Or was this last sentence of yours to be taken with a grain of salt?
The short answer lies in pointing out the expression "in this regard". The longer begins with pointing out that the reason I called it virtuous is that consider it a moral goal to "try and get it right".
Furthermore: are religiousness and 'epistemical virtuousness' necessarily opposites?
No. My main point was merely that "diehard atheism" does not deserve the kind of judgement as was levelled against it.
Of course, a quick glance at dogmatically religious people, or a literal reading of religious texts, may trigger an inclination to answer this question with 'yes',
It's certainly not a matter of necessity, as there were numerous religious people who were epistemically virtuous even by today's standards. I do think that what it means in concrete terms to be epistemically virtuous changes as scientific and philosophical methods develop. Clearly, when you have idea about e.g. confirmation bias, you are not required to take it into consideration, but once you do know about it, you have to consider it. And this is where things begin to get a bit more difficult for current Christians. As an example, given what has been shown about the bible and its history, which any western, semi-educated person has to take into account, believing in literal bible truth and divine authorship looks a lot like a failure to conform to the constrains of epistemic virtue.
but may it not be the case that there is more to religious experience than that? -- not just on a 'we'll just forget about what's in the text, and be nice people'-level, but on a more profound and intellectual level. Reading parts of William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience, to me, has made the latter seem quite likely. (And I don't think I'd have an easy time finding anyone I'd sooner classify as 'epistemically virtuous' than William James. Right now, David Hume is the only one I can think of.)
Didn't James himself state that "as a psychologist" he was an atheist? But even that is beside the point. Certainly there may be more to religious experience than taking holy texts literally. But I have not had any and am not altogether familiar with many first person reports of people who confess to have seen or met or in other ways experienced a god and therefore my judgement on these things in not on the surest of footing. I feel more at home with books and papers I can read. But those experiences I have heard reports of, I would advise the experience haver to reconsider their judgement. It seems more likely that Hildegard von Bingen was schizophrenic than that there is a god and it's blue, to give just one particularly colourful example.
I do not apologize for the pun. I like it. I might take it home and keep it as a pet.
And, to finish, one more -- somewhat controversial perhaps -- question: is 'just KNOWING you're right' necessarily non-epistemically virtuous? If so, why? And is it even possible, while admitting the possibility of knowledge, to free yourself entirely from the 'just KNOWING you're right'-type of knowledge?
No. Of course you can never check and justify all your beliefs. But you can select their importance. Also, the reason why I speak of virtue is that, instead of checking all your beliefs, what you should do is habituallize practices and methods of belief formation which are robustly reliable. And you should always treat your beliefs with a pinch of salt, being open to the possibility that you might be wrong, that you might have made a mistake somewhere and willing to correct yourself, if presented with corresponding evidence. All of this basically comes down to saying that you should never "just know" anything, but assign degrees of credence in appropriate ways. And 1 is hard to qualify for. Probably reserved for logical truths.
Accordingly, I try to avoid say "I know that..." and use expressions like "I think so.".