Research

Publications

Stuff I'm Actively Working On

  • A paper explaining why consequentialist theories of virtue are indefensible (~6000 words).

  • A paper offering a non-naturalist foundation for virtue ethics (~3000 words).

  • Revising dissertation papers to be suitable for standalone publication (particularly, "Humility's Independence" (see below).

Dissertation Abstract

This dissertation explains how modesty and humility’s alleged special features – their paradoxicality, sincerity or genuineness, and dependence on other good qualities – are compatible with standard intellectual conceptions of moral virtue. I argue that modesty and humility are self-attributable and inoffensive forms of self-presentation; they may be elicited by both praise and criticism, can promote justice in contexts of oppression, and depend on one having objectively good or meaningful qualities. This dissertation consists of five papers on these themes:

In “Demystifying Humility’s Paradoxes,” I explain how the possession and cultivation of humility can avoid various pragmatic paradoxes arising from the utterance “I am humble.”

In “Modesty as Inoffensive Self-Presentation,” I offer an interpersonal view of modesty based on ideas from William James and Mary Wollstonecraft that accounts for traditional norms in dress and regulations of self-presentation.

In “Compliments as Virtue Tests for Modesty,” I argue that it is objectionable to compliment others if the compliment invites one to knowingly downplay one’s skills and achievements – that is, to be falsely modest.

In “Humble Provocateurs,” I account for humility’s interpersonal value by showing that it is compatible with provocation, and identify a type of provocative moral exemplar whose humility has important social benefits.

In “Humility’s Independence,” I show that humility does not uniquely depend on any virtue, and instead propose the view that one must possess objectively good qualities fitting for one’s humility.