The Most Agreeable of All Vices: Nietzsche as Virtue Epistemologist

It’s been argued with some justice by commentators from Walter Kaufmann to Thomas Hurka that Nietzsche’s positive ethical position is best understood as a variety of virtue theory – in particular, as a brand of perfectionism. For Nietzsche, value flows from character. Less attention has been paid, however, to the details of the virtues he identifies for himself and his type. This neglect, along with Nietzsche’s frequent irony and non-standard usage, has obscured the fact that almost all the virtues he praises are intellectual rather than moral. The vices he most despises include dogmatism, intellectual partisanship, faith, boredom, the need for certainty, and pity. The virtues he most appreciates include curiosity, honesty, skepticism, creativity, the historical sense, intellectual courage, and intellectual fastidiousness. These tables of values place Nietzsche squarely among so-called responsibilist virtue epistemologists, such as Lorraine Code and Linda Zagzebski, who emphasize that knowledge is infused with desire and affect. I argue that curiosity construed as the specification of the will to power in the domain of epistemology is a cardinal Nietzschean virtue, and that the others – especially intellectual courage and honesty – are presupposed by curiosity. Thus, Nietzsche turns out to accept his own peculiar brand of the thesis of the unity of virtue.
Keywords Nietzsche  Curiosity  Virtue Epistemology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09608788.2012.733308
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
A. Macintyre (1984). After Virtue. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 46 (1):169-171.
Lorraine Code (1987). Epistemic Responsibility. Published for Brown University Press by University Press of New England.

View all 38 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Jason S. Baehr (2006). Character in Epistemology. Philosophical Studies 128 (3):479--514.
Elias Baumgarten (2001). Curiosity as a Moral Virtue. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 15 (2):169-184.
Heather Battaly (2008). Virtue Epistemology. Philosophy Compass 3 (4):639-663.
David J. Stump (2007). Pierre Duhem's Virtue Epistemology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 18 (1):149-159.
Mark Alfano (forthcoming). Epistemic Situationism: An Extended Prolepsis. In Mark Alfano & Abrol Fairweather (eds.), Epistemic Situationism. Oxford University Press

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

83 ( #40,497 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

10 ( #66,646 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.