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Historical Vice Epistemology: History of Humanities Meets Vice Epistemology

Three team members presented papers on scholarly vices in a panel at The Making of the Humanities – the annual gathering of historians of the humanities, held online this year. Sjang ten Hagen showed how historians and physicists in nineteenth-century Germany accused philosophers of speculation, to the point of “othering” philosophers into an antitype of a properly empirically oriented scientist. Herman Paul drew attention to the now almost forgotten vice of hypercriticism, explaining how and why this vice rose to prominence in nineteenth-century debates over Biblical scholarship. Alexander Stöger offered a long-term analysis of dogmatism, which not always has been a vice, but became one when scholars from the late eighteenth century onwards contrasted it with criticism and progress. Philosopher Ian James Kidd (Nottingham) commented on the three papers, arguing that historically the range of epistemic vices has been much larger, and more varied, than most epistemologists nowadays recognize. More interaction between historical and philosophical study of scholarly vices would be beneficial to both disciplines.