In the Nicomachean Ethics (NE), Aristotle famously distinguishes between two types of virtues: moral and intellectual. Contemporary virtue ethics argues that moral virtues are the foundational concepts and properties in ethics. Accordingly, virtue ethicists like Rosalind Hursthouse (1999), Michael Slote (2001) and Christine Swanton (2003) ground their (different) analyses of right action in their (different) analyses of moral virtue. Analogously, virtue epistemology argues that intellectual virtues are the foundational concepts and properties in epistemology. Thus, virtue epistemologists like Ernest Sosa (1991, 2007) and Linda Zagzebski (1996) ground their (different) analyses of knowledge in their (different) analyses of intellectual virtue.
Even if such analyses of right action and knowledge ultimately fail, analyses of moral and intellectual virtue will be important in their own right. After all, it is worthwhile to determine what makes a quality a moral or intellectual virtue, and which qualities make us excellent people and excellent thinkers, even if there is no easy formula for tying virtue to knowledge or right action.1 There are two key analyses of intellectual virtue in the current literature on virtue epistemology: virtue reliabilism, led by Sosa; and virtue responsibilism, led by Zagzebski. Virtue reliabilism shares the teleological intuition that underlies Aristotle's notion of intellectual virtue. In contrast, virtue responsibilism models its analysis of intellectual virtue on Aristotelian moral virtue.
The goal of this chapter is to provide an overview of the key debates about intellectual virtue that bear directly on virtue ethics.