Today’s virtual colloquium paper is “Jesus and the Virtues of Pride” by Robert C. Roberts and Ryan West. Dr. Roberts received his PhD from Yale in 1974 and is currently Chair of Ethics and Emotion Theory in the Jubilee Centre, the University of Birmingham (UK) and Distinguished Professor of Ethics emeritus at Baylor University. His extensive publication history includes monographs published by Oxford, Cambridge, and Eerdmans (among others) as well as numerous journal articles, mainly focusing on Christian virtue ethics. Dr. West received his PhD from Baylor, under Dr. Roberts’ supervision, earlier this year and is currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Grove City College. His papers on virtue ethics have appeared in journals including Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Synthese, and Faith and Philosophy.
Jesus and the Virtues of Pride
Robert C. Roberts and Ryan West
We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this virtual colloquium. Our paper, “Jesus and the Virtues of Pride,” is to be included in an interdisciplinary volume on pride edited by Adam Carter and Emma Gordon as part of Rowman & Littlefield’s forthcoming series, Moral Psychology of the Emotions (series editor, Mark Alfano). This is the penultimate draft, and we welcome your feedback. Here’s a sketch of the project.
It is commonly thought that humility and pride are traits that repel each other. And so they are, but only in a qualified sense. We propose that there are both virtuous and vicious forms of both humility and pride, and that only some of these are mutually repelling. More specifically, we argue that virtuous pride and virtuous humility are in fact mutually reinforcing, even as each is opposed to both vicious pride and vicious humility. We make our case by offering conceptual analyses of several sub-species of the four classes just mentioned, giving special attention to the presence or absence of those traits in the character of Jesus of Nazareth, whom we take to be an exemplar not only of virtuous humility, but also of virtuous pride.
We take virtuous humility to consist in the intelligent absence of the vices of pride. The latter encompass three general areas of human selfhood: the self as agent, as having special entitlements or privileges, and as a self among other selves. The third area admits division, so we group the pride vices into five species:
- The prides of distorted agency (selfish ambition, domination, and hyper- autonomy);
- The prides of corrupt entitlement (arrogance and presumptuousness);
- The prides of empty self-display (vanity and pretentiousness);
- The prides of invidious comparison (snobbery, self-righteousness, invidious pride, and envy); and
- The prides of tribal superiority (racism, sexism, ethnicism, homophobia, etc.).
We suggest that people with the vices of pride are concerned to have a kind of importance, which, in a way that deviates somewhat from common usage, we call self-importance. The drive for self-importance is exemplified in such things as using one’s agency for personal importance independently of the real value of one’s actions, taking over others’ proper agency, and eschewing others’ contributions to one’s own agency; having entitlements beyond what is proper to one; getting the (usually) positive regard of others in abstraction from what is actually excellent; and being superior to others and having others be inferior to oneself, either individually or in tribal terms. Virtuous humility, then, comes in a number of varieties: there is the lack of vanity, the lack of snobbery, the lack of domination, and so on.
The three areas of human selfhood just noted—the self as agent, as entitled, and as a self among other selves—are generic and unavoidable in the constitution of selfhood. They are fundamental aspects of human life that bear on individuals’ importance—not just the false value of self-importance, but the real importance of persons. People can be important for what they do, for what they are entitled to, and in virtue of their relations to one another. Also, these three belong intimately together, because they all intersect. The virtues of pride—traits like self-confidence, secure agency, aspiration, pride in one’s work, sense of dignity, self-respect, personal authority, pride in associates, group belonging, and secure collegiality—are excellences with respect to the same dimensions of character with respect to which the vices of pride are defects.
If virtuous pride is a positive self-construal in terms of one’s agency, one’s dignity, or one’s entitlements, it would seem to encourage virtuous humility in a special way, namely, by being a proper and genuine satisfaction of a basic human need of which the vices of pride are a perverse and false satisfaction. The fact that the vices of pride speak to the same psychological need as the virtues of pride marks the special intimacy between them. We illustrate this point by exploring the presence of several virtues of pride in the New Testament presentation of Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, we suggest that we can discern in the teaching of Jesus that he encourages his disciples to imitate him in many of these respects.
Finally, we suggest that virtuous pride and virtuous humility are each contrary not only to vicious pride, but also to what we call vicious humility. The latter finds expression in traits like deep shame, servility, and a variety of other unrealistically low dispositional self-construals.
That is a basic outline of the conceptual scheme of pride and humility we develop. In the paper, we offer several narrative examples to illustrate the nuances of each trait and their interrelations with one another. We also defend our view against some objections. We welcome the opportunity to explain and/or defend ourselves here as well. Thank you in advance for your feedback.
The complete paper is here. Comments welcome below!
Announcing a call for papers for a conference at the Chase Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, MO, November 13-16, 2014. Those selected will have expenses paid for the conference. Titles and abstracts are required at this point to be considered, though full drafts would be helpful as well. Send material to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The conference is made possible by funding from the Templeton Religion Trust, Baylor University, and Western Washington University.
As an update to our previous post, we are pleased to announce the schedule (including paper titles, main speakers, commentators, and chairs) for a conference in honor of and on themes from the work of Richard Swinburne. The conference will be held at Purdue University and will begin at 6pm Thursday, September 25 and conclude at 6pm on Saturday, September 27. This event is organized by Michael Bergmann and Jeffrey Brower and sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion, and the Society of Christian Philosophers. More details, including online registration information, will be available over the next few months. For now, here is the full line-up for the conference:
1. “Faith as Trust”
— Main Speaker: Jonathan Kvanvig, Baylor University
— Commentator: Frances Howard-Snyder, Western Washington University
— Chair: Robert Koons, University of Texas at Austin
2. “Faith and the Will”
— Main Speaker: John Schellenberg, Mount Saint Vincent University
— Commentator: Trent Dougherty, Baylor University
— Chair: Kristen Irwin, Biola University
3. “Intrinsic Probability and Natural Theology”
— Main Speaker: Paul Draper, Purdue University
— Commentator: Bradley Monton, University of Colorado, Boulder
— Chair: Sandra Visser, Valparaiso University
4. “On Swinburne’s Fine-Tuning Argument”
— Main speaker: Hud Hudson, Western Washington University
— Commentator: Roger White, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
— Chair: Susan Brower-Toland, Saint Louis University
5. “Law and Order”
— Main speaker: Alvin Plantinga, University of Notre Dame and Calvin College
— Commentator: Laura Ekstrom, College of William and Mary
— Chair: Ric Otte, University of California, Santa Cruz
6. “Time, Eternity, and Future Contingents”
— Main speaker: Dean Zimmerman, Rutgers University
— Commentator: Meghan Sullivan, University of Notre Dame
— Chair: William Hasker, Huntington College
7. “Love, Goodness, Justice, and Forgiveness”
— Main speaker: Eleonore Stump, Saint Louis University
— Commentator: Michael Rea, University of Notre Dame
— Chair: Timothy O’Connor, Indiana University
8. “Thinking Again about the Atonement”
— Main speaker: Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale University
— Commentator: Jesse Couenhoven, Villanova University
— Chair: Steffi Lewis, Municipal Capital Management, LLC
9. “The Doomsday Argument and Personal Immortality”
— Main speaker: Peter van Inwagen, University of Notre Dame
— Commentator: Lara Buchak, University of California, Berkeley
— Chair: Ted Poston, University of South Alabama
10. “The Soul, Its Nature and Future Prospects”
— Main speaker: Marilyn McCord Adams, Rutgers University
— Commentator: Brian Leftow, Oxford University
— Chair: Alan Padgett, Luther Seminary
Housed at Baylor University’s Philosophy Department, and supported by a grant from Templeton. The three-year project is co-directed by Jon Kvanvig, Dan Howard-Snyder, and Trent Dougherty.
These post-docs are 3-year positions, and the deadline for application is February 1.
Two Post-Doctoral Fellowship Positions
Department of Philosophy, Baylor University
On The Nature and Value of Faith
Funded by a grant from the Templeton Foundation
Applications are solicited for two three-year fellowships to work as part of a team of scholars, led by Jonathan L. Kvanvig, Daniel Howard-Snyder, and Trent Dougherty, on the nature and value of faith. The project will be housed in the Baylor University Department of Philosophy.
A collaborative effort, the project aims to address questions concerning the relationship between faith, hope, trust, belief, and acceptance. Fellows will have the opportunity to devote three years of research to issues that fall within the scope of the project, to participate in weekly discussions of these issues with the co-directors, and to participate in summer seminars with other scholars working on these issues.
In their application, applicants should explain how their intended research addresses the questions involved in the project. These questions include: whether faith is a cognitive state, an active state, or something else; how faith relates to belief, and to hope, and to various positive character traits the relationship between faith and rationality; whether faith is assessable in purely epistemic terms or in terms of practical rationality, or in other terms the relationship between faith and central epistemic goods such as knowledge and understanding; whether faith is necessary for either wisdom or understanding; whether faith is a virtue, and, if so, how faith compares with other virtues; whether there is a distinction between mundane faith and religious faith, and, if so, how the distinction is to be understood.
This list of questions and issues is not meant to exhaustive, but merely indicative of some of the types of issues that can fruitfully be pursued within the scope of the project.
The application consists of the following:
(i) a research proposal of no more than 10 pages, detailing a proposed research agenda for the year and relevant prior work related to it,
(ii) a curriculum vita,
(iii) three letters of recommendation
(iv) a cover letter.
The application deadline is February 1, 2014. The evaluation committee will consist of the co-directors of the project. The criteria for selection are (1) demonstrated expertise in philosophy of religion or theology and (2) evidence of the ability to undertake significant research that will contribute to the aims of the project. As a direct consequence of their involvement with the project, it is expected that the successful candidates will author several publications. Preferred candidates will have PhD in hand at the time of appointment.
Electronic applications are preferred, and may be sent to email@example.com with “Fellowship Application” in the subject line. Salary level is competitive, and includes standard fringe benefits; moving expenses provided as well. Start date is August 15, 2014, and successful candidates will have expenses paid to participate for all summer seminars associated with the project, beginning June 15, 2014. In addition, funding will be provided for participation in the annual conferences associated with the project.
Baylor is a Baptist University affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, Baylor encourages minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities to apply.