Gossip as a Burdened Virtue

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (3):473-82 (2017)
Mark Alfano
Delft University of Technology
Brian Robinson
Texas A&M University - Kingsville
Gossip is often serious business, not idle chitchat. Gossip allows those oppressed to privately name their oppressors as a warning to others. Of course, gossip can be in error. The speaker may be lying or merely have lacked sufficient evidence. Bias can also make those who hear the gossip more or less likely to believe the gossip. By examining the social functions of gossip and considering the differences in power dynamics in which gossip can occur, we contend that gossip may be not only permissible but virtuous, both as the only reasonable recourse available and as a means of resistance against oppression.
Keywords gossip  burdened virtue  reputation
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-017-9809-y
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