One way of becoming interested in virtue epistemology is to be interested first in traditional epistemology, and hope that talk of the virtues can be useful for traditional topics such as knowledge and justification.
There is another way, though, that is interesting to think about. Think about the tradition in ethics that asks us to use thicker ethical concepts. We might think the same way in epistemology. One might think that, just as the language of right and good is rather thin, so is talk about justification and rationality. So, maybe, we’d begin elsewhere.
So suppose we begin by thinking about characteristics of admirable cognizers, and develop a list of positive traits: intellectual honesty, originality, creativity, openmindedness, careful reasoning, insight, discernment, sagacity, wisdom, cleverness, lovers of truth, etc. And our list of negative characteristics would include: ignorance, denseness, naivete, credulity, gullibility, obtuseness, dogmatism, narrowmindedness, closemindedness, etc. Then we’d start thinking about the relationships between these qualities, evaluating which are more important than the others, and how they relate to epistemic valuables such as knowledge, understanding, theoretical wisdom, justification, and rationality.
Would this be one result of proceeding in this way? Evaluating people, beliefs, and statements in terms of justificatory status has a kind of conservative streak to it: follow the rules, etc. Focusing on the characteristics themselves might incline one in a different direction. Originality is wonderful, and discernment is not the sort of thing one has just by following a set of epistemic principles. Would thicker epistemology be less conservative?