What Makes a Philosopher Good or Bad?

On November 26th, our project member Sjang ten Hagen presented his historical research on virtues and vices during the two-day conference “What Makes a Philosopher Good or Bad?: Intellectual Virtues and Vices in the History of Philosophy?.” The conference was organized by Lukas Verburgt and included Quassim Cassam, Adeshina Afolayan, Michael Beaney, and Lisa Shapiro as keynote speakers (see below for the entire programme).

The aim of the conference was to apply the framework of intellectual virtues and vices to the history of philosophy. Speakers had been invited to reflect on questions such as: How have scholarly ideals of what counts as a good (and bad) philosopher changed over time? How can the study of virtues and vices aid in rethinking the philosophical canon? Did philosophers borrow virtues and vices from other academic disciplines in the humanities and the sciences, or vice versa?

Resulting contributions were diverse, ranging from historical inquiries into the exclusion of women from the philosophical canon (Connell & Janssen-Lauret, Kanzelbinder) to a plea for the importance of the virtue of open-mindedness in the contemporary study of the history of philosophy (Beaney), and from reflections on recent developments in African philosophy (Afolayan) to attempts to link the history of philosophy to the history of humanities and science (Karstens, Ten Hagen, Ziche). The variety and freshness of the contributions highlighted the potential of the study of virtues and vices to the history of philosophy.