Honesty as a Virtue

Alan T. Wilson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


Honesty is widely accepted as a prime example of a moral virtue. And yet, honesty has been surprisingly neglected in the recent drive to account for specific virtuous traits. This paper provides a framework for an increased focus on honesty by proposing success criteria that will need to be met by any plausible account of honesty. It then proposes a motivational account on which honesty centrally involves a deep motivation to avoid deception. It argues that this account satisfies the required success criteria and discusses why (and when) honesty can be accepted as a moral virtue. Finally, it highlights some implications of accepting a motivational account of honesty for future work on encouraging the development of honesty, and on the relationship between different types of virtue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-280
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Early online date16 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • honesty
  • moral virtue
  • virtue ethics

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