The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits

The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits

The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits

The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits

Synopsis

Are there times when it's right to be rude? Can we distinguish between good and bad gossip? Am I a snob if I think that NPR listeners are likely to be better informed than devotees of Fox News? Does sick humor do anyone any good? Can I think your beliefs are absurd but still respect you?


In The Virtues of Our Vices, philosopher Emrys Westacott takes a fresh look at important everyday ethical questions--and comes up with surprising answers. He makes a compelling argument that some of our most common vices--rudeness, gossip, snobbery, tasteless humor, and disrespect for others' beliefs--often have hidden virtues or serve unappreciated but valuable purposes. For instance, there are times when rudeness may be necessary to help someone with a problem or to convey an important message. Gossip can foster intimacy between friends and curb abuses of power. And dubious humor can alleviate existential anxieties.


Engaging, funny, and philosophically sophisticated, The Virtues of Our Vices challenges us to rethink conventional wisdom when it comes to everyday moral behavior.

Excerpt

Should you tell a friend something you’ve heard about a mutual acquaintance? Would it be rude to address someone by his first name rather than using his title? What does it say about me if I laugh when someone tells a sick joke? Is it snobbish to assume that New York Times readers are likely to be better informed than people who prefer the National Enquirer? Can I think your beliefs ridiculous while still respecting you as a person?

Questions like these may seem small, but they are the very stuff of everyday ethical life. Books on applied ethics, especially college textbooks, typically discuss the Big Issues—abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, affirmative action, nuclear deterrence, immigration, world poverty, and so on. Such topics are undeniably important. They are the focus of national debates, and the stakes are high; consequently, they have attracted more attention from professional philosophers. But it is the smaller ques-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.