Metacognition and intellectual virtue
Intellectual virtue and ability are potentially wide-ranging explanatory constructs. A great deal of work has been done on the parallels between epistemic abilities and moral virtues, and epistemic evaluation and evaluations of success through ability in ordinary contexts. Less has been accomplished on the question of what is characteristic of intellectual virtues or abilities, and more specifically, what distinguishes intellectual virtues from other reliable cognitive processes. In this paper, I propose that what differentiates a virtue or ability from a merely reliable process is whether the subject has effective metacognitive control over it. Metacognition, as I will use the term, is the monitoring and control of object-level cognitive processes; not just thinking about thinking, but the regulation and management of thinking. The need for successful metacognitive control to satisfy our epistemic goals is nearly ubiquitous in ordinary human cognition. Moreover, the adaptability and accuracy that effective regulation provides are hallmarks of ability and of virtuous inquiry, making the identification of virtue with capacity for regulation even more plausible.
Lepock, C. (2014)., Metacognition and intellectual virtue, in A. Fairweather (ed.), Virtue epistemology naturalized, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 33-48.
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