Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 335–350 | Cite as

The Virtues of Ignorance

  • Adam Feltz
  • Edward T. Cokely


It is commonly claimed that fully virtuous individuals cannot be ignorant and that everyday intuitions support this fact. Others maintain that there are virtues of ignorance and most people recognize them. Both views cannot be correct. We report evidence from three experiments suggesting that ignorance does not rule out folk attributions of virtue. Additionally, results show that many of these judgments can be predicted by one’s emotional stability—a heritable personality trait. We argue that these results are philosophically important for the study of virtue and we discuss some of the ways individual differences may inform and facilitate current debates in ethics. We close with a cautionary argument detailing the risks of discounting some intuitions simply because they are associated with seemingly less desirable personality traits.


Personality Trait True Belief Emotional Stability Moral Virtue Good Person 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Funding for this project came from the A New Science of Virtues grant from the Arete Initiative at the University of Chicago. We would like to thank Mark Phelan and two anonymous referees from the Review of Philosophy and Psychology for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary StudiesSchreiner UniversityKerrvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

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