Can we measure practical wisdom?

Journal of Moral Education 49 (1):71-97 (2020)
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Abstract
ABSTRACTWisdom, long a topic of interest to moral philosophers, is increasingly the focus of social science research. Philosophers have historically been concerned to develop a rationally defensible account of the nature of wisdom and its role in the moral life, often inspired in various ways by virtue theoretical accounts of practical wisdom. Wisdom scientists seek to, among other things, define wisdom and its components so that we can measure them. Are the measures used by wisdom scientists actually measuring what philosophers have in mind when they discuss practical wisdom? I argue that they are not. Contemporary measures of wisdom and its components may pick out some necessary prerequisites of practical wisdom, but they do not measure a philosophically plausible practical wisdom or its components. After explaining the argument and defending it against objections, I consider its implications. Should wisdom scientists ignore the philosophical conception of practical wisdom in favor of other conceptions, revise their methods to try to measure it, or continue the interdisciplinary study of practical wisdom without expecting to measure it? I make a preliminary argument for the third option.
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Archival date: 2020-02-06
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