Epistemology of Education

What are the basic aims and ideals of the educational enterprise? What ought educators try to accomplish?

These are perhaps the most fundamental questions in the philosophy of education (Phillips & Siegel, 2013). It is hard to see how they can be answered, though, without reference to certain epistemic goods, such as valuable epistemic states (e.g. knowledge and understanding) and epistemically valuable dispositions (e.g. intellectual virtues). The study of epistemic values and intellectual virtues has featured at the forefront of recent work in mainstream analytic epistemology, though typically outside the context of educational objectives.

This lacuna needs addressing. Just as work on epistemic virtues and values can help answer fundamental questions in the philosophy of education, likewise, as Siegel notes, 'thinking about education promises substantial benefit for the pursuit of standard epistemological questions' and especially given that 'virtue epistemology and social epistemology are high on the epistemological agenda'. The underlying rationale of this Eidyn project is that increased cooperation between mainstream epistemology and the philosophy of education promises headway in both directions. The guiding objective will be to explore a range of philosophical connections between mainstream epistemology and the philosophy of education. 

A further component of the project will be to connect issues in the epistemology of education with an exciting new area in the philosophy of mind, which is active externalism, according to which (roughly) parts of the world, external to agents themselves, can feature in cognition. The application of active externalism to mainstream epistemology (and in particular, to virtue epistemology) has already shown promising ways that knowledge and intellectual virtues can be thought of as extending into the world. We will thus be exploring these themes as they bear on issues in philosophy of education--and in particular, how to balance increased reliance on technology with educational objectives.


Project Events

A workshop on 'Intellectual Virtues, Group Knowledge and Education' was held in 2014, jointly organised with the Eidyn pilot project on Group Knowledge. A second workshop was held as a satellite event at the Extended Knowledge conference in 2015. Further events are planned in the near future.


Project team: 

Project Leader: Dr J. Adam Carter

Local Project Members: Paul Anderson (Informatics), Dr Andrea English (Education), Dr Allan Hazlett, Dr S. Orestis Palermos, Prof Duncan Pritchard, Dr John Ravenscroft (Education), Dr Lani Watson

Other Project Members: Prof Mark Alfano (Oregon, Philosophy), Prof Jason Baehr (Loyola Marymount University, Philosophy), Prof Heather Battaly (Fullerton, Philosophy), Dr Ben Kotzee (Birmingham, Education), Prof Richard Menary (Macquarie, Cognitive Science), Prof Chienkuo Mi (Soochow University, Taiwan, Philosophy)

Funded by Eidyn/PPLS