Unity of the Intellectual Virtues

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Abstract

The idea that moral virtues form some sort of “unity” has received considerable attention from virtue theorists. In this paper, I argue that the possibility of unity among intellectual virtues has been wrongly overlooked. My approach has two main components. First, I work to distinguish the variety of different views that are available under the description of a unity thesis. I suggest that these views can be categorised depending on whether they are versions of standard unity or of strong unity. Standard unity claims that the possession of one virtue implies possession of all the others. Strong unity claims that the virtues are, in some sense, all the same thing. By exploring what these different versions of unity would look like when applied to intellectual virtues, I aim to provide a menu of options for future work in virtue epistemology. I then develop and defend one of these options in more detail, arguing that the initially less plausible strong unity has merit when applied to the intellectual sphere. In these two ways, I aim to show that the possibility of unity among the intellectual virtues is deserving of serious consideration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSynthese
Early online date9 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
For comments and feedback on earlier versions of this paper, I am grateful to Christian Miller and members of the Work in Progress group at Wake Forest University, as well as to audiences at Oklahoma, Glasgow and Edinburgh. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful and generous feedback. Work on this paper was carried out during a period of research funded by the Templeton Religion Trust. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Templeton Religion Trust.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • virtue epistemology
  • intellectual virtues
  • unity thesis
  • virtue theory

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