Heather Battaly specializes in epistemology, ethics, and virtue theory, is one of the leading researchers in the world on the concept of intellectual humility, and is a pioneer on the topic of epistemic vice. Her work influences research in philosophy, psychology and education on intellectual humility and the teaching of intellectual character traits. She has been co-Investigator for a Templeton grant and Principal Investigator for a Spencer grant, has received various awards from Cal State Fullerton for research and teaching, and is editor in chief of the Journal of Philosophical Research as well as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
Areas of Expertise (6)
Syracuse University: PhD, Philosophy
University of Vermont: BA, Philosophy and History
Media Appearances (1)
Was Dr House a good person at the end?
Heather Battaly and Amy Coplan, in their essay "Diagnosing House" - part of the collection House & Philosophy, edited by Henry Jacoby - describe Dr Gregory House, circa 2009: House is a spectacular misanthrope who repeatedly fails to do what a benevolent person would do. He is unnecessarily cruel to patients and their families, and to his colleagues and friends. He routinely issues gratuitous insults and is so consistently callous that we are shocked on the rare occasion when he manages to show compassion. Since House repeatedly fails to do what a benevolent person would do, he is not benevolent.
Intellectual humility: Owning our limitationsPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Dennis Whitcomb, Heather Battaly, Jason Baehr, Daniel Howard-Snyder
Detecting Epistemic Vice in Higher Education Policy: Epistemic Insensibility in the Seven Solutions and the REFJournal of Educational Philosophy
2013 This article argues that the Seven Solutions in the US, and the Research Excellence Framework in the UK, manifest the vice of epistemic insensibility. Section I provides an overview of Aristotle's analysis of moral vice in people. Section II applies Aristotle's analysis to epistemic vice, developing an account of epistemic insensibility. In so doing, it contributes a new epistemic vice to the field of virtue epistemology. Section III argues that the (US) Seven Breakthrough Solutions and, to a lesser extent, the (UK) Research Excellence Framework manifest two key features of the vice of epistemic insensibility. First, they promote a failure to desire, consume, and enjoy some knowledge that it is appropriate to desire, consume, and enjoy. Second, they do so because they wrongly assume that such knowledge is not epistemically good. The Solutions wrongly assume that any research that lacks ‘impact’, in the form of funding, thereby lacks epistemic value. The REF wrongly assumes of otherwise comparable bodies of research, that the research that lacks ‘impact’ has less epistemic value.
Introduction: Virtue and ViceMetaphilosophy
2010 This introduction to the collection Virtue and Vice, Moral and Epistemic addresses three main questions: (1) What is a virtue theory in ethics or epistemology? (2) What is a virtue? and (3) What is a vice? (1) It suggests that a virtue theory takes the virtues and vices of agents to be more fundamental than evaluations of acts or beliefs, and defines right acts or justified beliefs in terms of the virtues. (2) It argues that there are two important but different concepts of virtue: virtues are qualities that attain good ends, and virtues are qualities that involve good motives. (3) Accordingly, vices are qualities that either fail to attain good ends or involve bad motives. Finally, the introduction summarizes the eleven essays in the collection, which are divided into four sections: the Structure of Virtue Ethics and Virtue Epistemology; Virtue and Context; Virtue and Emotion; and Virtues and Vices.
Virtue EpistemologyPhilosophy Compass
2008 What are the qualities of an excellent thinker? A growing new field, virtue epistemology, answers this question. Section I distinguishes virtue epistemology from belief-based epistemology. Section II explains the two primary accounts of intellectual virtue: virtue-reliabilism and virtue-responsibilism. Virtue-reliabilists claim that the virtues are stable reliable faculties, like vision. Virtue-responsibilists claim that they are acquired character traits, like open-mindedness. Section III evaluates progress and problems with respect to three key projects: explaining low-grade knowledge, high-grade knowledge, and the individual intellectual virtues.
Teaching Intellectual VirtuesTeaching Philosophy
2006 How can we cultivate intellectual virtues in our students? I provide an overview of virtue epistemology, explaining two types of intellectual virtues: reliabilist virtues and responsibilist virtues. I suggest that both types are acquired via some combination of practice on the part of the student and explanation on the part of the instructor. I describe strategies for teaching these two types of virtues in the classroom, including an activity for teaching the skill of using the square of opposition, and several activities that encourage students to practice open-minded acts, intellectually courageous acts, and the motivation for truth.