Is all virtue-based ethics and epistemology response-dependentist? It seems to me that yes. Consider the following:
Some people say that value comes from affection and sentiment. Suppose one of them, call him Michael S. claims that the central “producer” of value is empathic care. But he also thinks that being empathically caring is a virtue, since he follows the traditional Aristotelian account of virtues and thinks that virtues first, motivate, and second, tell us what is a worthy goal of action. So, his view is virtue-based: values derive from virtues. Next, notice that empathic care is virtuous agent’s central RESPONSE to situations, foremost to other people’s needs and predicaments. The value of his goal is dependent on his virtue, and the activation of virtue is a response. Therefore, value is RESPONSE-DEPENDENT. Here is the story generalized and epistemologized:
1. Value derives from virtue. X has a value V because it is a (fitting) object of the exercise of virtue A (for “arête”). E.g. the value of reliably true belief comes from the virtue of inquisitiveness. (The Assumption of Virtue-Based Ethics)
2. A virtue has a motivational component (and a cognitive one ). E.g. inquisitiveness motivates. (A plausible Classical Assumption).
3. The exercise of a virtue A is a (merited) response to X that has value V. E.g. If a mathematical theorem is worth our believing it, then curiosity about it is a merited response to it (from 1 and 2).
4. Having value V depends on virtue A.
5. Value V is response-dependent. E.g. a theorem has a primary and non-instumental epistemic value only if it is such that a virtuous (inquisitive) agent, say a mathematician, would be curious about it under normal circumstances.
Now, the dependence can be cashed out in two connected ways:
(A) Causing-producing: X has value V because X tends to produce the virtue A-activating response R in virtuous agents. (Example: The theorem typically arouses mathematician’s curiosity):
(B) Conceptual fitting: X has value V because the virtue A-activating response R in virtuous agents is the merited response to X. (Example: The theorem merits the curiosity)
Traditionally, virtue-based projects involve both: the second for certain, but also the first. It is its POWER TO CONFER VALUE that makes virtue so basic. (Some philosophers, e.g. J. Dancy, and M. Little and M. Lance, personal comm..) would say that the second case (i.e.(B)) gives one just response-involving and not response-dependent character; to me the issue seems more verbal than real.)
Conclusion: all virtue-based ethics and epistemology is response-dependentist.
I am very very eager for comments!
P.S. The motivating component of virtue is a DESIRE-LIKE faculty, if we take desire in very wide sense. If this is so, we get a version of virtue-Humeanism as the final product.