DOI: 10.3390/philosophies8040071 ISSN: 2409-9287

Why We Should Be Curious about Each Other

Lisa Bortolotti, Kathleen Murphy-Hollies
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy

Is curiosity a virtue or a vice? Curiosity, as a disposition to attain new, worthwhile information, can manifest as an epistemic virtue. When the disposition to attain new information is not manifested virtuously, this is either because the agent lacks the appropriate motivation to attain the information or because the agent has poor judgement, seeking information that is not worthwhile or seeking information by inappropriate means. In the right circumstances, curiosity contributes to the agent’s excellence in character: it is appropriate to praise the agent for being curious, blame the agent for not being curious, and also prompt the agent to cultivate such curiosity, at least in some of the relevant contexts. We believe curiosity can also manifest as a moral virtue when it helps an interpreter view a speaker as an agent with a valuable perspective on the world. Especially in interactions where either there is a marked power imbalance between interpreter and speaker, or interpreter and speaker have identity beliefs that lead them to radically different worldviews, curiosity can help foster mutual understanding, and prevent the interpreter from dismissing, marginalizing, or pathologizing the speaker’s perspective.