The Monist 88 (1):72-92 (2005)

John Lippitt
University of Hertfordshire
Is a sense of humour a virtue? In an informal sense of the term ‘virtue’, of course it is. A sense of humour is a trait nobody wants to be thought of as lacking, and one that we value in partners, friends, and colleagues alike. But the claim that a sense of humour is a moral virtue seems far more controversial. Yet in a fascinating article, just this claim has been advanced by Robert C. Roberts, who relates it to the further claim that there are figures, such as Socrates and Tolstoy, “whose wisdom was partially constituted by a sense of humour.” Now, if it is right that certain forms of wisdom are partially constituted by the possession of a certain sense of humour, then it is a likely corollary that the development of such wisdom goes hand in hand with the development of such a sense of humour. In which case, the development of such a sense of humour would be a significant dimension of moral education, understood as a training in the virtues.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist20058816
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