Edinburgh Research Explorer

Intellectual Virtue and the Good Life: Ethical and Epistemic Values

Project: Funded ProjectResearch

  • Allan Hazlett (Principal investigator)
  • Pritchard, Duncan (Co-investigator)
  • Greco, John (Other)
  • Baehr, Jason (Other)
  • Tiberius, Valerie (Other)
  • Baril, Anne (Other)
Total award£130,014.00
Funding organisationAHRC
Funder project referenceAH/K001744/1
Project websitehttp://intellectualvirtue.wordpress.com/


Research questions:

1. What are intellectual virtues? What’s the difference (if any) between intellectual virtues, moral virtues, and epistemic virtues?
2. What’s the value of intellectual virtue? In what sense, if any, is it good to be intellectual virtuous? Why ought we be intellectually virtuous?
3. Which character traits are intellectual virtues, and in what sense are these character traits valuable? Consider curiosity, intellectual autonomy, sincerity, openmindnedness, and authenticity. Why are these character traits good traits to have? Are they intellectual virtues? In what sense?
4. Can the value or disvalue of intellectual virtue be supported empirically, by showing that intellectual virtue is positively or negatively correlated with happiness, mental health, and other goods?

Key findings

Existing theories of intellectual virtue are of two broad types. Aristotelian theories define intellectual virtues in terms of the wellbeing or eudaimonia of the possessor. Contemporary theories define them in terms of their conduciveness to "epistemic goods" (truth, knowledge, understanding). I propose a neglected type of intellectual virtue theory, which can be thought of as "Humean," on which intellectual virtues are defined in terms of wellbeing or happiness in general. Neglected intellectual virtues, on this approach, include preferring non-testimonial belief, skepticism, and optimism.