Intellectual Virtues in Higher Education

Ashley Floyd Kuntz, Rebecca M Taylor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Intellectual virtues are characteristics that motivate individuals to pursue knowledge and understanding. They support the intellectual flourishing of the individual and consequently of society writ large. Scholars are only beginning to examine how these virtues are developed. An interdisciplinary approach that bridges philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and education research is needed to add empirical grounding to philosophical conceptions of intellectual virtues and to provide recommendations for educators to advance these virtues.

Schools arguably have a vital role to play in the development of the intellectual virtues. Colleges and universities embrace several core aims, among them fostering the individual flourishing of their students and the broader public good. Interpreted through a philosophical lens, achieving these aims invokes intellectual virtues. Two intellectual virtues—intellectual autonomy and intellectual fairness—are particularly salient for emerging adults in the higher education context. Empirical research has the potential to shed light on how these virtues are developed and what educators can do to better promote them. Although empirical studies suggest that emerging adults in college may be developmentally primed for the virtues of intellectual autonomy and intellectual fairness, many emerging adults do not leave college reliably demonstrating these virtues. Colleges and universities can do more to support their development by (a) providing students with challenging situations and supportive conditions, (b) creating opportunities for self-directed learning and intellectual risk-taking, and (c) raising awareness of cognitive limitations that undermine fairness.

Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationOxford Research Encyclopedia of Education
StatePublished - Feb 23 2021

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