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Profile: Mark Alfano (Delft University of Technology, Australian Catholic University)
  1. Virtue Epistemology.John Turri, Mark Alfano & John Greco - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1-51.
    Contemporary virtue epistemology (hereafter ‘VE’) is a diverse collection of approaches to epistemology. At least two central tendencies are discernible among the approaches. First, they view epistemology as a normative discipline. Second, they view intellectual agents and communities as the primary focus of epistemic evaluation, with a focus on the intellectual virtues and vices embodied in and expressed by these agents and communities. -/- This entry introduces many of the most important results of the contemporary VE research program. These include (...)
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  2. Experimental Moral Philosophy.Mark Alfano & Don Loeb - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1-32.
    Experimental moral philosophy began to emerge as a methodology in the last decade of the twentieth century, a branch of the larger experimental philosophy (X-Phi, XΦ) approach. From the beginning, it has been embroiled in controversy on a number of fronts. Some doubt that it is philosophy at all. Others acknowledge that it is philosophy but think that it has produced modest results at best and confusion at worst. Still others think it represents an important advance.
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  3. Identifying and Defending the Hard Core of Virtue Ethics.Mark Alfano - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:233-260.
    Virtue ethics has been challenged on empirical grounds by philosophical interpreters of situationist social psychology. Challenges are necessarily challenges to something or other, so it’s only possible to understand the situationist challenge to virtue ethics if we have an antecedent grasp on virtue ethics itself. To this end, I first identify the non-negotiable “hard core” of virtue ethics with the conjunction of nine claims, arguing that virtue ethics does make substantive empirical assumptions about human conduct. Next, I rearticulate the situationist (...)
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  4. Placebo Effects and Informed Consent.Mark Alfano - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics 15 (10):3-12.
    The concepts of placebos and placebo effects refer to extremely diverse phenomena. I recommend dissolving the concepts of placebos and placebo effects into loosely-related groups of specific mechanisms, including (potentially among others) expectation-fulfillment, classical conditioning, and attentional-somatic feedback loops. If this approach is on the right track, it has three main implications for the ethics of informed consent. First, because of the expectation-fulfillment mechanism, the process of informing cannot be considered independently from the potential effects of treatment. Obtaining informed consent (...)
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  5. Ethical Issues of 'Morality Mining': When the Moral Identity of Individuals Becomes a Focus of Data-Mining.Markus Christen, Mark Alfano, Endre Bangerter & Daniel Lapsley - 2013 - In Hakikur Rahman & I. Ramos (eds.), Ethical Data Mining Applications for Socio-Economic Development. IGI Global. pp. 1-21.
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  6. A Multi-Modal, Cross-Cultural Study of the Semantics of Intellectual Humility.Markus Christen, Mark Alfano & Brian Robinson - forthcoming - AI and Society.
    Intellectual humility can be broadly construed as being conscious of the limits of one’s existing knowledge and capable to acquire more knowledge, which makes it a key virtue of the information age. However, the claim “I am (intellectually) humble” seems paradoxical in that someone who has the disposition in question would not typically volunteer it. There is an explanatory gap between the meaning of the sentence and the meaning the speaker ex- presses by uttering it. We therefore suggest analyzing intellectual (...)
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  7. The Topology of Communities of Trust.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - Russian Sociological Review.
    Hobbes emphasized that the state of nature is a state of war because it is characterized by fundamental and generalized distrust. Exiting the state of nature and the conflicts it inevitably fosters is therefore a matter of establishing trust. Extant discussions of trust in the philosophical literature, however, focus either on isolated dyads of trusting individuals or trust in large, faceless institutions. In this paper, I begin to fill the gap between these extremes by analyzing what I call the topology (...)
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  8. Friendship and the Structure of Trust.Mark Alfano - 2016 - In Alberto Masala & Jonathan Webber (eds.), From Personality to Virtue. Oxford University Press. pp. 186-206.
    In this paper, I describe some of what I take to be the more interesting features of friendship, then explore the extent to which other virtues can be reconstructed as sharing those features. I use trustworthiness as my example throughout, but I think that other virtues such as generosity & gratitude, pride & respect, and the producer’s & consumer’s sense of humor can also be analyzed with this model. The aim of the paper is not to demonstrate that all moral (...)
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  9. Intelligence, Race, and Psychological Testing.Mark Alfano, Latasha Holden & Andrew Conway - forthcoming - In Naomi Zack (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race.
    This chapter has two main goals: to update philosophers on the state of the art in the scientific psychology of intelligence, and to explain and evaluate challenges to the measurement invariance of intelligence tests. First, we provide a brief history of the scientific psychology of intelligence. Next, we discuss the metaphysics of intelligence in light of scientific studies in psychology and neuroimaging. Finally, we turn to recent skeptical developments related to measurement invariance. These have largely focused on attributability: Where do (...)
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  10. Virtue and Vice Attributions in the Business Context: An Experimental Investigation. [REVIEW]Brian Robinson, Paul Stey & Mark Alfano - 2013 - Journal of Business Ethics 113 (4):649-661.
    Recent findings in experimental philosophy have revealed that people attribute intentionality, belief, desire, knowledge, and blame asymmetrically to side- effects depending on whether the agent who produces the side-effect violates or adheres to a norm. Although the original (and still common) test for this effect involved a chairman helping or harming the environment, hardly any of these findings have been applied to business ethics. We review what little exploration of the implications for business ethics has been done. Then, we present (...)
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  11.  8
    The Seduction of Winston Smith.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Ezio Di Nucci & Stefan Storrie (eds.), 1984 and Philosophy. Open Court.
    On the first page of 1984, Winston Smith is confronted with several posters featuring the face of Big Brother and the famous sentence, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.” This may not seem like a promising way to seduce someone, but the seduction of Winston Smith by Big Brother in 1984 is a most unusual love story. I call it a seduction because Winston’s mind and heart are slowly won over in the aptly-named Ministry of Love. Moreover, in the final scene (...)
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  12. The Embedded and Extended Character Hypotheses.Mark Alfano & Gus Skorburg - forthcoming - In Julian Kiverstein (ed.), Philosophy of the Social Mind. Routledge.
    This paper brings together two erstwhile distinct strands of philosophical inquiry: the extended mind hypothesis and the situationist challenge to virtue theory. According to proponents of the extended mind hypothesis, the vehicles of at least some mental states (beliefs, desires, emotions) are not located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent whose states they are. When external props, tools, and other systems are suitably integrated into the functional apparatus of (...)
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  13. Nietzsche, Naturalism, and the Tenacity of the Intentional.Mark Alfano - 2013 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 44 (3):457-464.
    In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche demands that “psychology shall be<br>recognized again as the queen of the sciences.” While one might cast a dubious glance at the “again,” many of Nietzsche’s insights were indeed psychological, and many of his arguments invoke psychological premises. In Genealogy, he criticizes the “English psychologists” for the “inherent psychological absurdity” of their theory of the origin of good and bad, pointing out the implausibility of the claim that the utility of unegoistic<br>actions would be forgotten. Tabling (...)
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  14. Gossip as a Burdened Virtue.Mark Alfano & Brian Robinson - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-15.
    Gossip is often serious business, not idle chitchat. Gossip allows those oppressed to privately name their oppressors as a warning to others. Of course, gossip can be in error. The speaker may be lying or merely have lacked sufficient evidence. Bias can also make those who hear the gossip more or less likely to believe the gossip. By examining the social functions of gossip and considering the differences in power dynamics in which gossip can occur, we contend that gossip may (...)
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  15.  16
    Digital Humanities for History of Philosophy: A Case Study on Nietzsche.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In L. Levenberg T. Neilson (ed.), Handbook of Methods in the Digital Humanities. Rowman & Littlefield.
    Nietzsche promises to “translate man back into nature,” but it remains unclear what he meant by this and to what extent he succeeded at it. To help come to grips with Nietzsche’s conceptions of drive (Trieb), instinct (Instinkt) and virtue (Tugend and/or Keuschheit), I develop novel digital humanities methods to systematically track his use of these terms, constructing a near-comprehensive catalogue of what he takes these dispositions to be and how he thinks they are related. Nietzsche individuate drives and instincts (...)
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  16. Swanton, Christine. The Virtue Ethics of Hume & Nietzsche. [REVIEW]Mark Alfano - 2016 - Ethics 126 (4):1120-1124.
    This book has a noble aim: to free virtue ethics from the grip of the neo-Aristotelianism that limits its scope in contemporary Anglophone philosophy. Just as there are deontological views that are not Kant’s or even Kantian, just as there are consequentialist views that are not Bentham’s or even utilitarian, so, Swanton contends, there are viable virtue ethical views that are not Aristotle’s or even Aristotelian. Indeed, the history of both Eastern and Western philosophy suggests that the majority of normative (...)
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  17.  59
    I Know You Are, But What Am I? Anti-Individualism in the Development of Intellectual Humility and Wu-Wei.Brian Robinson & Mark Alfano - 2016 - Logos and Episteme 7 (4):435-459.
    Virtues are acquirable, so if intellectual humility is a virtue, it’s acquirable. But there is something deeply problematic—perhaps even paradoxical—about aiming to be intellectually humble. Drawing on Edward Slingerland’s analysis of the paradoxical virtue of wu-wei in Trying Not To Try (New York: Crown, 2014), we argue for an anti-individualistic conception of the trait, concluding that one’s intellectual humility depends upon the intellectual humility of others. Slingerland defines wu-wei as the “dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person (...)
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  18. A Schooling in Contempt: Emotions and the Pathos of Distance.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Paul Katsafanas (ed.), Routledge Philosophy Minds: Nietzsche. Routledge.
    Nietzsche scholars have developed an interest in his use of “thick” moral psychological concepts such as virtues and emotions. This development coincides with a renewed interest among both philosophers and social scientists in virtues, the emotions, and moral psychology more generally. Contemporary work in empirical moral psychology posits contempt and disgust as both basic emotions and moral foundations of normative codes. While virtues can be individuated in various ways, one attractive principle of individuation is to index them to characteristic emotions (...)
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  19.  57
    Implications for Virtue Epistemology From Psychological Science: Intelligence as an Interactionist Virtue.Mark Alfano & Gus Skorburg - forthcoming - In Heather Battaly (ed.), Handbook of Virtue Epistemology. Routledge.
    This chapter aims to expand the body of empirical literature considered relevant to virtue theory beyond the burned-over districts that are the situationist challenges to virtue ethics and epistemology. We thus raise a rather simple-sounding question: why doesn’t virtue epistemology have an account of intelligence? In the first section, we sketch the history and present state of the person-situation debate to argue for the importance of an interactionist framework in bringing psychological research in general, and intelligence research in particular, to (...)
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  20. The Tenacity of the Intentional Prior to the Genealogy.Mark Alfano - 2010 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 40 (1):29-46.
    I have argued elsewhere that the psychological aspects of Nietzsche’s later works are best understood from a psychodynamic point of view. Nietzsche holds a view I dubbed the tenacity of the intentional (T): when an intentional state loses its object, a new object replaces the original; the state does not disappear entirely. In this essay I amend and clarify (T) to (T``): When an intentional state with a sub-propositional object loses its object, the affective component of the state persists without (...)
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  21. Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Mark Alfano - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):671-673.
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  22. An Enchanting Abundance of Types: Nietzsche’s Modest Unity of Virtue Thesis.Mark Alfano - 2015 - Journal of Value Inquiry 49 (3):417-435.
    Although Nietzsche accepted a distant cousin of Brian Leiter’s “Doctrine of Types,” according to which, “Each person has a fixed psycho-physical constitution, which defines him as a particular type of person,” the details of his actual view are quite different from the flat-footed position Leiter attributes to him. Leiter argues that Nietzsche thought that type-facts partially explain the beliefs and actions, including moral beliefs and actions, of the person whom those type-facts characterize. With this much, I agree. However, the Doctrine (...)
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  23.  18
    Identifying Virtues and Values Through Obituary Data-Mining.Mark Alfano, Andrew Higgins & Jacob Levernier - forthcoming - Journal of Value Inquiry.
    Because obituaries are succinct and explicitly intended to summarize their subjects’ lives, they may be expected to include only the features that the author finds most salient but also to signal to others in the community the socially-recognized aspects of the deceased’s character. We begin by reviewing studies 1 and 2, in which obituaries were carefully read and labeled. We then report study 3, which further develops these results with a semi-automated, large-scale semantic analysis of several thousand obituaries. Geography, gender, (...)
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  24.  83
    Christoph Luetge, Hannes Rusch, & Matthias Uhl , Experimental Ethics: Toward an Empirical Moral Philosophy.Mark Alfano - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-4.
    It would be unkind but not inaccurate to say that most experimental philosophy is just psychology with worse methods and better theories. In Experimental Ethics: Towards an Empirical Moral Philosophy, Christoph Luetge, Hannes Rusch, and Matthias Uhl set out to make this comparison less invidious and more flattering. Their book has 16 chapters, organized into five sections and bookended by the editors’ own introduction and prospectus. Contributors hail from four countries (Germany, USA, Spain, and the United Kingdom) and five disciplines (...)
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  25.  97
    How One Becomes What One Is: The Case for a Nietzschean Conception of Character Development.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Perspectives on Character. Oxford University Press.
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  26.  19
    The Epistemic Function of Contempt and Humor in Nietzsche.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Michelle Mason (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Contempt. Rowman & Littlefield.
    Interpreters have noticed that Nietzsche, in addition to sometimes being uproariously funny, reflects more on laughter and having a sense of humor than almost any other philosopher. Several scholars have further noticed that Nietzschean laughter sometimes seems to have an epistemic function. In this chapter, I therefore assume that Nietzsche is a pluralist about the functions of humor and laughter, and seek to establish the uses he finds for them. I offer an interpretation according to which he tactically uses humor (...)
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  27.  89
    Virtue, Situationism, and the Cognitive Value of Art.Jacob Berger & Mark Alfano - 2016 - The Monist 99 (2):144-158.
    Virtue-based moral cognitivism holds that at least some of the value of some art consists in conveying knowledge about the nature of virtue and vice. We explore here a challenge to this view, which extends the so-called situationist challenge to virtue ethics. Evidence from social psychology indicates that individuals’ behavior is often susceptible to trivial and normatively irrelevant situational influences. This evidence not only challenges approaches to ethics that emphasize the role of virtue but also undermines versions of moral cognitivism, (...)
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  28. Epistemic Situationism: An Extended Prolepsis.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Mark Alfano & Abrol Fairweather (eds.), Epistemic Situationism. Oxford University Press.
    This paper is an extended prolepsis in favor of epistemic situationism, the thesis that epistemic virtues are not sufficiently widely distributed for a virtue-theoretic constraint on knowledge to apply without leading to skepticism. It deals with four objections to epistemic situation: 1) that virtuous dispositions are not required for knowledge, 2) that the Big Five or Big Six personality model proves that intellectual virtues are a reasonable ideal, 3) that the cognitive-affective personality system framework proves that intellectual virtues are a (...)
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  29. Ramsifying Virtue Theory.Mark Alfano - 2015 - In Current Controversies in Virtue Theory. Routledge. pp. 123-35.
    In his contribution, Mark Alfano lays out a new (to virtue theory) naturalistic way of determining what the virtues are, what it would take for them to be realized, and what it would take for them to be at least possible. This method is derived in large part from David Lewis’s development of Frank Ramsey’s method of implicit definition. The basic idea is to define a set of terms not individually but in tandem. This is accomplished by assembling all and (...)
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  30. How One Becomes What One is Called: On the Relation Between Traits and Trait-Terms in Nietzsche.Mark Alfano - 2015 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 46 (1):261-269.
    Despite the recent surge of interest in Nietzsche’s moral psychology and his conceptions of character and virtue in particular, little attention has been paid to his treatment of the relation between character traits and the terms that designate them. In this paper, I argue for an interpretation of this relation: Nietzsche thinks there is a looping effect between the psychological disposition named by a character trait-term and the practice of using that term.
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  31.  14
    Twenty-First Century Perspectivism: The Role of Emotions in Scientific Inquiry.Mark Alfano - forthcoming - Studi di Estetica.
    How should emotions figure in scientific practice? I begin by distinguishing three broad answers to this question, ranging from pessimistic to optimistic. Confirmation bias and motivated numeracy lead us to cast a jaundiced eye on the role of emotions in scientific inquiry. However, reflection on the essential motivating role of emotions in geniuses makes it less clear that science should be evacuated of emotion. I then draw on Friedrich Nietzsche’s perspectivism to articulate a twenty-first century epistemology of science that recognizes (...)
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  32.  73
    Extended Knowledge, the Recognition Heuristic, and Epistemic Injustice.Mark Alfano & Gus Skorburg - forthcoming - In Duncan Pritchard, Jesper Kallestrup, Orestis Palermos & Adam Carter (eds.), Extended Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
    We argue that the interaction of biased media coverage and widespread employment of the recognition heuristic can produce epistemic injustices. First, we explain the recognition heuristic as studied by Gerd Gigerenzer and colleagues, highlighting how some of its components are largely external to, and outside the control of, the cognitive agent. We then connect the recognition heuristic with recent work on the hypotheses of embedded, extended, and scaffolded cognition, arguing that the recognition heuristic is best understood as an instance of (...)
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  33. Genealogy Revisited. [REVIEW]Mark Alfano - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy.
    “Another Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality?” one might be excused for asking at the sight of Simon May’s new collection. This volume has to contend for shelf space with homonymic monographs by Lawrence Hatab (2008) and David Owen (2007), as well as Daniel Conway’s (2008) Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals, a compilation of the same name edited by Christa Acampora (2006), and Brian Leiter’s Nietzsche on Morality (2002). Add to this that Hatab contributes to May’s collection, Owen and (...)
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  34.  76
    A Research Program for Empirically Informed Ethics.Markus Christen & Mark Alfano - 2013 - In Empirically Informed Ethics. Springer. pp. 3-27.
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  35.  68
    Becoming Less Unreasonable: A Reply to Sherman.Mark Alfano - 2015 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4 (7):59-62.
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  36. The Semantic Neighborhood of Intellectual Humility.Markus Christen, Mark Alfano & Brian Robinson - 2014 - Proceedings of the European Conference on Social Intelligence.
    Intellectual humility is an interesting but underexplored disposition. The claim “I am (intellectually) humble” seems paradoxical in that someone who has the disposition in question would not typically volunteer it. There is an explanatory gap between the meaning of the sentence and the meaning the speaker expresses by uttering it. We therefore suggest analyzing intellectual humility semantically, using a psycholexical approach that focuses on both synonyms and antonyms of ‘intellectual humility’. We present a thesaurus-based method to map the semantic space (...)
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  37.  62
    Reasons-Based Moral Judgment and the Erotetic Theory.Philipp Koralus & Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Jean-Francois Bonnefon & Bastian Tremoliere (eds.), Moral Inference.
    We argue that moral decision making is reasons-based, focusing on the idea that people encounter decisions as questions to be answered and that they process reasons to the extent that they can see them as putative answers to those questions. After introducing our topic, we sketch the erotetic reasons-based framework for decision making. We then describe three experiments that extend this framework to moral decision making in different question frames, cast doubt on theories of moral decision making that discount reasons (...)
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  38.  38
    Mapping Human Values: Enhancing Social Marketing Through Obituary Data-Mining.Mark Alfano, Andrew Higgins & Jacob Levernier - forthcoming - In Eda Gurel-Atay & Lynn Kahle (eds.), Social and Cultural Values in a Global and Digital Age. Routledge.
    Obituaries are an especially rich resource for identifying people’s values. Because obituaries are succinct and explicitly intended to summarize their subjects’ lives, they may be expected to include only the features that the author(s) find most salient, not only for themselves as relatives or friends of the deceased, but also to signal to others in the community the socially-recognized aspects of the deceased’s character. We report three approaches to the scientific study of virtue and value through obituaries. We begin by (...)
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  39.  3
    I Know You Are, But What Am I? Anti-Individualism in the Development of Intellectual Humility and Wu-Wei.Brian Robinson & Mark Alfano - 2016 - Logos and Episteme 7 (4):435-459.
    Virtues are acquirable, so if intellectual humility is a virtue, it’s acquirable. But there is something deeply problematic—perhaps even paradoxical—about aiming to be intellectually humble. Drawing on Edward Slingerland’s analysis of the paradoxical virtue of wu-wei in Trying Not To Try, we argue for an anti-individualistic conception of the trait, concluding that one’s intellectual humility depends upon the intellectual humility of others. Slingerland defines wu-wei as the “dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person who is optimally active (...)
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  40.  37
    Still Lives: The History and Philosophy of Mourning Texts.Veronica Alfano & Mark Alfano - forthcoming - Routledge.
    “Call no one happy until they are dead.” “Never speak ill of the dead.” If we still heed the injunctions of Solon and Chilon of Sparta, then obituaries, which represent a prominent way of expressing the human universal of grief, are a resource for philosophical anthropology. Philosophers have emphasized that we can determine what counts as a virtue for a given type of person in a given cultural context by analyzing what people say about the dead (Zagzebski 1996, p. 135). (...)
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