Character, Caricature, and Gossip

The Monist 99 (2):198-211 (2016)
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Abstract
Gossip is rarely praised. There seems little virtuous that is about talking behind someone’s back. Whether there is anything virtuous about gossip, however, depends on the kind of gossip. Some gossip is idle, but some evaluative gossip promulgates and enforces norms. When properly motivated, such gossip effects positive change in society and counts as gossiping well. The virtue of gossiping well even includes some kinds of false gossip, namely the sort that exaggerates a pre-existing trait, thereby creating a caricature of a person’s character in order to establish a moral exemplar (or anti-exemplar).
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Archival date: 2016-03-23
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