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.
- moral virtue
- virtue ethics