Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 335–350

The Virtues of Ignorance


DOI: 10.1007/s13164-012-0107-2

Cite this article as:
Feltz, A. & Cokely, E.T. Rev.Phil.Psych. (2012) 3: 335. doi:10.1007/s13164-012-0107-2


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.

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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