The Corruption of Intellectual Virtue - Philosophy Department Seminar with Alan Wilson (University of Bristol)
Cotham House G2
Abstract: There is currently widespread scepticism about the possession of moral and intellectual virtues. Results from social psychology (as well as recent political developments) have been taken as evidence for the claim that most people are not virtuously compassionate, honest, open-minded, or inquisitive. In response, virtue theorists have begun to provide empirically-informed accounts of how virtues are developed, in the hope that this research can then be used for the purposes of virtue cultivation. (See, for example, Russell (2009); Snow (2010, 2016, forthcoming); Annas (2011); Baehr (2013); Webber (2016).) In this talk, I address the related issue of how virtues can fail to develop, with a specific focus on the intellectual virtues.
I begin by presenting one recently proposed account of moral virtue development - Snow's "folk virtue" account - and by explaining how this account would apply in the case of intellectual virtues. I then use the account to propose and explain three different ways in which virtue (or the potential for virtue) can be corrupted. It is hoped that this work will provide a framework for thinking about the features of our environment (or of our institutions) that impede the development of intellectual virtues, and that encourage the development of intellectual vice.