Hope as an Intellectual Virtue?

Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (3):269-285 (2015)
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Hope is a ubiquitous feature of human experience, but there has been relatively little scholarship within contemporary analytic philosophy devoted to the systematic analysis of its nature and value. In the last decade, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in the study of hope and, in particular, its role in human agency. This scholarly attention reflects an ambivalence about hope's effects. While the possession of hope can have salutary consequences, it can also make the agent vulnerable to certain kinds of personal risk. The pervasiveness of hope is not a sign of its quality; only a well‐tuned hope can be a virtue. Recently, Nancy Snow has argued that hope can be an intellectual virtue. Framing her account as a contribution to regulative epistemology, she contends that the intellectual virtue of hope can (i) motivate the pursuit of important epistemic ends, (ii) create dispositions that enable the successful pursuit of these aims, and (iii) generate a method for enduring intellectual projects. In this paper, I provide a critical appraisal of Snow's account of hope as an intellectual virtue. One important implication of this critique is that hope can function as an intellectual virtue only to the extent that it has benefitted from the correcting and perfecting influence of other cognitive excellences.



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Aaron D. Cobb
Auburn University At Montgomery

Citations of this work

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