Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Jonathan F. Garthoff

Committee Members

Eldon F. Coffman, James C. Shaw


This thesis consists of three parts. Part one responds to an argument by Jason Baehr that virtues of intellectual character which make their possessor good qua person can also figure as virtues in reliabilist accounts of knowledge. I analyze his argument with special attention to the cases he uses to motivate his claims, and argue that the role which intellectual character virtues play in the acquisition of knowledge is not the role which is relevant to reliabilists accounts of knowledge. More generally, I argue that character intellectual virtues are not good candidates for reliabilist virtues because their telos is not simply aimed at achieving warranted true beliefs. The second part of this thesis addresses an interpretive puzzle in Plato’s Theaetetus. In a short passage, Plato seems to deviate from arguing against a Protagorean account of knowledge and has Socrates deliver a description of two rival ways of life that turns into an exhortation to practice justice. The passage contrasts men shaped by life in the courts with those shaped by philosophy. This “digression” raises questions both about its relationship to the surrounding attempts to analyze knowledge and about the relationship between the detached philosophers portrayed in the digression and Socrates. I argue the digression serves to reveal the implications of the Protagorean account of knowledge for evaluating who has true wisdom about life, and that the philosophers portrayed in the digression are sufficiently and relevantly like Socrates that the digression also serves to advocate a Socratic lifestyle against a Protagorean lifestyle. The third part of this thesis analyzes and criticizes Thomas Scanlon’s account of moral motivation as fundamentally consisting in the reasons we have to live life in a relation of “mutual recognition” with other people. I argue that the reasons to live in such a relation to others cannot account for the full rational force of morality, and, more particularly, that they cannot explain what is distinctively wrong with someone not concerned with morality. I conclude by noting ways in which Scanlon’s account could be improved by explaining moral motivation in terms of the value of persons.

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