Does Moral Virtue Require Knowledge? A Response to Julia Driver

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (4):533 - 546 (2012)
A long-standing tenet of virtue theory is that moral virtue and knowledge are connected in some important way. Julia Driver attacks the traditional assumption that virtue requires knowledge. I argue that the examples of virtues of ignorance Driver offers are not compelling and that the idea that knowledge is required for virtue has been taken to be foundational for virtue theory for good reason. I propose that we understand modesty as involving three conditions: 1) having genuine accomplishments, 2) being aware of the value of these accomplishments, and 3) having a disposition to refrain from putting forward one's accomplishments. When we understand modesty this way, we can properly identify genuine cases of modesty and see how modesty requires knowledge. Something similar can be said about other alleged virtues of ignorance. With the proposal in place, we have no serious reason to think that moral virtue requires ignorance. Additionally, we have good reasons for thinking that acting virtuously requires having good intentions and that a necessary condition of having a virtue is having knowledge. Although some might take these results to be trivial or obviously true, I think the Julia Driver's challenge should not be dismissed out of hand. Even though there are some reasons for thinking that some situations suggest that knowledge and virtue can be separated from one another, close analysis reveals this impression is only surface deep
Keywords Moral virtue  Moral knowledge  Weakness of will  Huck Finn  Moral principles
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,798
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Moral Reasons.Jonathan Dancy - 1993 - Blackwell.
Love's Knowledge.Martha C. Nussbaum - 1990 - Oxford University Press.
Virtue and Reason.John McDowell - 1979 - The Monist 62 (3):331-350.
Uneasy Virtue.Julia Driver - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn.Jonathan Bennett - 1974 - Philosophy 49 (188):123-134.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Driver's Virtues.Michael Slote - 2004 - Utilitas 16 (1):22-32.
Ignorance and Virtue.Ronald Sandler - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (2):261-272.
What Is Modesty?Fritz Allhoff - 2009 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (2):165-187.
Modesty Without Illusion.Jason Brennan - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1):111-128.
Aesop's Fox: Consequentialist Virtue Meets Egocentric Bias.Dale L. Clark - 2009 - Philosophical Psychology 22 (6):727 – 737.
Modesty as a Virtue of Attention.Nicolas Bommarito - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (1):93-117.
Virtue Consequentialism.Ben Bradley - 2005 - Utilitas 17 (3):282-298.
Response to My Critics.Julia Driver - 2004 - Utilitas 16 (1):33-41.
Epistemic Situationism: An Extended Prolepsis.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Mark Alfano & Abrol Fairweather (eds.), Epistemic Situationism. Oxford University Press.
Kant's Conception of Virtue.Lara Denis - 2006 - In Paul Guyer (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Kant and Modern Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
How Should One Live?: Essays on the Virtues.Roger Crisp (ed.) - 1996 - Oxford University Press.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
56 ( #97,141 of 2,199,759 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #44,378 of 2,199,759 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature