Interpersonal Intellectual Virtues
A heuristic Conceptualization from an Empirical Study
Keywordsvirtue epistemology, intellectual virtues, interdisciplinary research, second-person perspective, interpersonal relationships
Due to the hyperspecialization so prevalent nowadays, interdisciplinary research is a demanding kind of epistemic activity. The concept of intellectual virtue as presented by responsibilist approaches of virtue epistemology could offer an effective counterweight to this challenge but raises the question of what epistemic virtues are necessary for interdisciplinarity.
Based on a qualitative study, we identify and heuristically conceptualize a relevant subset of epistemic virtues required by interdisciplinarity that we call interpersonal intellectual virtues. These virtues are personal character traits that facilitate the reciprocal acquisition and distribution of knowledge with and through other people. By their very nature, they are only exercised in an interpersonal relationship that seeks an epistemic good, so in some sense, they are at the intersection of social virtues and intellectual virtues.
We use Jason Baehr’s four-dimensional proposal for the essential components of intellectual virtues (motivational, affective, skill, and judgment) to show that these interpersonal traits are indeed epistemic virtues. Some examples of interpersonal intellectual virtues are intellectual empathy, intellectual respect, and intellectual trust, among others. Intellectual empathy is a paradigmatic case that we analyze in more detail.
Finally, we suggest that interpersonal intellectual virtues are the key character traits of people involved in any successful collective epistemic endeavor, interdisciplinary research being a privileged context in which we can clearly see their manifestation.
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