Virtue epistemologists (such as John Greco) have argued that knowledge is to be seen as a cognitive achievement. Duncan Pritchard argues that being an achievement is not a necessary condition of knowledge. Pritchard uses the example of testimonial knowledge to argue that being an achievement is not a necessary condition for knowledge. He agues that in testimonial knowledge, the one who gains knowledge through testimony is hardly making an achievement. The following example will make Pritchard’s point clear.
Suppose that a person namely P, who is completely unfamiliar with Hyderabad, reached at the Hyderabad railway station. He asked to some stranger that where the University of Hyderabad (UoH) is located. P got the right information about the location of UoH and he formed his belief regarding the location of UoH accordingly. Pritchard’s point is that, in usual cases P’s true belief would count as knowledge. However we cannot call it as P’s cognitive achievement. According to Pritchard, at best it is a mixture of the cognitive achievements of the person who provided the information and of P (suppose that the person has gone to the UoH personally). Thus the thesis that knowledge is a cognitive achievement fails to capture such instances of knowledge.
However, it is not clear whether the example provided will serve Pritchard to establish his point. It is not clear that how the knowledge which P posses is not an instance of cognitive achievement. The person P would not have asked about the location of the University to any one randomly. He will definitely be sensitive to potential defeaters. For example, he will not ask to a small kid or a person who is heavily drunk. P will form his belief according to what the kid or the drunk person would say about the location of the university. This would mean that in forming a belief about the location of UoH, P is making a cognitive achievement through the use of his intellectual skills (virtues?). In the example mentioned above, it is true that the testifier has gone to the university and has applied her/his intellectual skills to form the knowledge regarding the location of the university. And hence the knowledge gained is a case of cognitive achievement. However, it is not clear that how this will make P’s knowledge one of being not an achievement. If the knowledge which P posses is a result of the cognitive achievements of both P and the testifier, it is not clear that how that will undermine the view that knowledge is to be seen as a cognitive achievement. It is not clear because of the following reason. Though the information which P receives from the testifier is a cognitive achievement of the testifier, it does not mean that P need not apply any intellectual virtues to form her/his belief to make it his/her knowledge. If P believes the information (s)he receives from the testifier without the application of nay intellectual virtues (blind belief), that piece of belief cannot be considered as a knowledge of P. That would mean that testimony is a case of cognitive achievement. Hence the argument that testimonial knowledge is a case which show that being an achievement is not a necessary condition for knowledge does not seem to succeed.