April 08, 2008

21st Century Virtues

Athena of the libraryOn our practical ethics blog, I blog about The stresses of 24 hour creative work: How much would Aristotle blog? - about the stresses of for-pay blogging and other modern creative professions and how virtue ethics may be a solution. (blog, blog, blog...)

Overall, we need to think about what new virtues we need in the 21st century. Here are some loose ideas:

  • Equanimity in the face of choice - learning to enjoy the option we take without regretting all the other options, as well as recognizing when it may not matter much which option we choose.
  • Temperance in the face of information flooding - this is linked with the ability to recognize when more information is not needed or useful. Another related ability is to select the right level of detail when thinking or modelling something.
  • The ability to quit something deeply engaging when it is time - be it a computer game, blogging, programming, a drug habit or a job.
  • Accurate estimation of how much something is worth to us - without being influenced by conventional views of its value.
  • Recognizing cognitive biases affecting our judgement. Even when we cannot get rid of them we can exercise intellectual integrity by becoming more humble about the reliability of our own opinions.
  • Treating risks and probabilities rationally.
  • Maybe time-management skills ought to be recognized more clearly as virtues with a moral aspect and not just useful: we are wasting less of ours and other's time, energy and cognition.
Posted by Anders3 at April 8, 2008 09:29 PM