What’s wrong with virtue signaling?

Jesse HILL*, James FANCIULLO

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A novel account of virtue signaling and what makes it bad has recently been offered by Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke. Despite plausibly vindicating the folk?s conception of virtue signaling as a bad thing, their account has recently been attacked by both Neil Levy and Evan Westra. According to Levy and Westra, virtue signaling actually supports the aims and progress of public moral discourse. In this paper, we rebut these recent defenses of virtue signaling. We suggest that virtue signaling only supports the aims of public moral discourse to the extent it is an instance of a more general phenomenon that we call norm signaling. We then argue that, if anything, virtue signaling will undermine the quality of public moral discourse by undermining the evidence we typically rely on from the testimony and norm signaling of others. Thus, we conclude, not only is virtue signaling not needed, but its epistemological effects warrant its bad reputation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117
Number of pages19
JournalSynthese
Volume201
Issue number4
Early online date22 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Keywords

  • Moral grandstanding
  • Moral progress
  • Norm signaling
  • Public moral discourse
  • Virtue signaling

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