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The Aims of Higher EducationProblems of Morality and Justice$
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Harry Brighouse and Michael McPherson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226259345

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226259512.001.0001

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Autonomy as Intellectual Virtue

Autonomy as Intellectual Virtue

(p.74) Five Autonomy as Intellectual Virtue
The Aims of Higher Education

Kyla Ebels-Duggan

University of Chicago Press

One standard argument in support of higher education is that it is valuable because it promotes students’ autonomy, where ‘autonomy’ is roughly understood to be self-reliance and self-empowerment. According to this chapter, relying on this conception of autonomy facilitates the standard view’s incorrect diagnosis of the intellectual vices of the typical university student and misleading prescription for how to remedy these vices. This article argues that the best way to understand autonomy is in terms of the intellectual virtues of charity and humility. Given this alternative conception, it becomes clear that the actual vice of today’s student is not unreflective allegiance to a conception of the good, but instead an overconfidence in the vulnerability of all views to criticism and a resulting unwillingness to commit to any positive view. This conception of autonomy also illuminates the correct prescription for these problems: an approach to teaching that inculcates and develops the appropriate balance of charity, humility, and tenacity.

Keywords:   autonomy, intellectual virtues, intellectual vices, charity, humility, tenacity, conception of the good

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