Virtue epistemology and the philosophy of education

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This article initially provides a brief overview of virtue epistemology; it thereafter considers some possible ramifications of this branch of the theory of knowledge for the philosophy of education. The main features of three different manifestations of virtue epistemology are first explained. Importantly, it is then maintained that developments in virtue epistemology may offer the resources to critique aspects of the debate between Hirst and Carr about how the philosophy of education ought to be carried out and by whom. Wilfred Carr's position—that educational practitioners have privileged access to philosophical knowledge about teaching practice—will in particular be questioned. It will be argued that Carr's view rests on a form of epistemology, internalism, which places unreasonably narrow restrictions upon the range of actors and ways, in which philosophical knowledge of and/or for education might be achieved. In declaring that practical wisdom regarding teaching is ‘entirely dependent’ on practitioner reflection, Carr not only radically deviates from Aristotle's notion of practical wisdom, he also, in effect, renders redundant all philosophical research about education that is not initiated by teachers in this manner. It is concluded that Aristotle's general approach to acquiring information and knowledge about the world might yet still offer a foundation for a more comprehensive philosophy of education; one that makes clear that the professional testimony and reflection of teachers, observation of teaching practice, and already existing educational philosophy, theory and policy can all be perceived as potentially valuable sources of philosophical knowledge of and for education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-270
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number2
Early online date19 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


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