Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 9, pp 2331–2349 | Cite as

Where are virtues?

  • Joshua August SkorburgEmail author


This paper argues that the question, ‘where are virtues?’ demands a response from virtue theorists. Despite the polarizing nature of debates about the relevance of empirical work in psychology for virtue theory, I first show that there is widespread agreement about the underlying structure of virtue. Namely, that virtues are comprised of cognitive and affective processes. Next, I show that there are well-developed arguments that cognitive processes can extend beyond the agent. Then, I show that there are similarly well-developed arguments that affective processes can extend beyond the agent. I then introduce three cases to establish that these cognitive and affective processes are relevantly similar to the cognitive and affective processes countenanced by plausible theories of virtue. Finally, I conclude that virtue theorists must abandon default internalism, the (often implicit) view that the cognitive and affective processes comprising virtues are internal to the agent.


Moral psychology Virtue theory Extended mind 



Many thanks to Santiago Mejia, Nicolae Morar, and Sungwoo Um for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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