Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2):259 - 274 (2012)

G. Alex Sinha
Hofstra University
This paper offers a novel, secular account of the virtue of humility. There are only two such accounts in recent philosophical literature: one defended by Julia Driver, the other by George Schueler. Driver attaches the virtue of humility to people who underestimate their merits, or lack beliefs about their merits altogether. Schueler thinks that humility requires indifference to how we are regarded vis-à-vis our accomplishments. This paper brings out the limitations of those accounts and constructs a new one which is free of them. The new account derives directly from the under-appreciated approach defended a century ago by Hastings Rashdall, who developed a secular (albeit religiously-inspired) account of humility according to which true humility reflects love for one's neighbour. After indicating the flaws in Rashdall's approach, I develop an account based on his intuitions. Specifically, I argue that humility requires suppressing our egos when they lead us to neglect or disregard other duties. Humility comprises two dimensions: a private dimension, for when we uphold self-regarding duties rather than succumb to the temptations of ego; and a public dimension, for when we display fidelity to other-regarding duties at the expense of the pleasures of ego
Keywords Virtue  Humility  Modesty
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Reprint years 2012
DOI 10.1080/00048402.2011.584542
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References found in this work BETA

The Virtues of Ignorance.Julia Driver - 1989 - Journal of Philosophy 86 (7):373.
Modesty and Ignorance.Julia Driver - 1999 - Ethics 109 (4):827-834.
Why Modesty is a Virtue.G. F. Schueler - 1997 - Ethics 107 (3):467-485.
The Theory of Good and Evil.A. R. Gifford - 1907 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 4 (20):548-553.

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Citations of this work BETA

Intellectual Humility and the Curse of Knowledge.Michael Hannon - 2021 - In Michael Lynch & Alessandra Tanesini (eds.), Arrogance and Polarisation. Routledge.
Modesty as an Executive Virtue.Sungwoo Um - 2019 - American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (3):303-317.
On Cosmopolitan Humility and the Arrogance of States.Luis Cabrera - 2018 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 23 (2):1-25.
Modesty as an Excellence in Moral Perspective Taking.Emer O'Hagan - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):1120-1133.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

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Standing Humbly Before Nature.Lisa Gerber - 2002 - Ethics and the Environment 7 (1):39-53.
Jewish Ethics and the Virtue of Humility.Ronald Green - 1973 - Journal of Religious Ethics 1:53-63.
Humility in Health Care.Karen Lebacqz - 1992 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 17 (3):291-307.
On the Rehabilitation of Virtue.Max Scheler - 2005 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 79 (1):21-37.


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