Heather  Battaly, Ph.D. University of Connecticut

Heather Battaly, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy


Professor Battaly works in epistemology and ethics, with a focus epistemic virtue.

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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

Human Characteristics


Syracuse University



University of Vermont


Philosophy and History



Media Appearances

Advice from three humanities journal editors on how to get your work published

The Daily Campus  print


“The good submissions are not just saying something new; they’re saying something that’s new and important and potentially trendsetting,” Heather Battaly, a philosophy professor and editor in chief of the Journal of Philosophical Research, said. Battaly also serves as the associate editor of the Journal of the American Philosophical Association, which was founded in 2015 and is a relatively new journal in the field of philosophy. She described both publications that she works for as general journals on philosophy and said that they are not overly ingrained with complicated wording or topics that are specific to specialists in the field, but instead “can be appreciated by philosophers who aren’t already steeped in the details of the topic at hand.”

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Was Dr House a good person at the end?

Stuff  online

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.

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Educating for intellectual pride and ameliorating servility in contexts of epistemic injustice

Educational Philosophy and Theory


Some of the students in our classrooms doubt their intellectual strengths—their knowledge, abilities, and skills. They may be unaware of the intellectual strengths they have, or may ignore, lack confidence in, or under-estimate them. They may even incorrectly judge themselves to be intellectually inferior to their peers. Students who do such things consistently are deficient in the virtue of intellectual pride—in appropriately ‘owning’ their intellectual strengths—and are on their way to developing a form of intellectual servility. Can the ‘standard approach’ to intellectual character education help these students make progress toward intellectual pride? This article argues that there are two limitations in its ability to help. First, the standard approach isn’t likely to help unless it is combined with classroom strategies for ameliorating servility. Second, even when it is combined with ameliorative strategies, any progress it might make in the classroom is likely to be fleeting when a student’s servility is caused by systemic epistemic injustice. This article suggests that rather than prioritize the standard approach, we prioritize strategies that aim at systemic change and amelioration

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Vice epistemology has a responsibility problem

Philosophical Issues, Volume29, Issue1


Vice epistemology is in the business of defining epistemic vice. One of the proposed requirements of epistemic vices is that they are reprehensible—blameworthy in a non-voluntarist way. Our problem, as vice epistemologists, is giving an analysis of non-voluntarist responsibility that will count just the right qualities, no more and no less, as epistemic vices. If our analysis of non-voluntarist responsibility ends up being too narrow, then it risks excluding some qualities that we want to count as epistemic vices, such as implicit biases. Whereas, if it ends up being too broad, it risks including qualities that we do not want to count as epistemic vices, such as impaired vision. I recommend a three-step program for vice epistemologists: 1. admit that we have a responsibility problem; 2. strive to define the responsibility problem; 3. work together with specialists in non-voluntarist responsibility to solve the responsibility problem.

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Can Closed-mindedness be an Intellectual Virtue?

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements , Volume 84: Harms and Wrongs in Epistemic Practice


Is closed-mindedness always an intellectual vice? Are there conditions in which it might be an intellectual virtue? This paper adopts a working analysis of closed-mindedness as an unwillingness or inability to engage seriously with relevant intellectual options. In standard cases, closed-mindedness will be an intellectual vice. But, in epistemically hostile environments, closed-mindedness will be an intellectual virtue.

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Closed-Mindedness and Dogmatism

Episteme , Volume 15 , Special Issue 3: 2017 Episteme Conference


The primary goal of this paper is to propose a working analysis of the disposition of closed-mindedness. I argue that closed-mindedness (CM) is an unwillingness or inability to engage (seriously) with relevant intellectual options. Dogmatism (DG) is one kind of closed-mindedness: it is an unwillingness to engage seriously with relevant alternatives to the beliefs one already holds. I do not assume that the disposition of closed-mindedness is always an intellectual vice; rather I treat the analysis of the disposition, and its status as an intellectual vice, as separate questions. The concluding section develops a framework for determining the conditions under which closed-mindedness will be an intellectual vice.

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Intellectual humility: Owning our limitations

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Dennis Whitcomb, Heather Battaly, Jason Baehr, Daniel Howard-Snyder


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Detecting Epistemic Vice in Higher Education Policy: Epistemic Insensibility in the Seven Solutions and the REF

Journal of Educational Philosophy

Heather Battaly

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.

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Introduction: Virtue and Vice


Heather Battaly

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.

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Virtue Epistemology

Philosophy Compass

Heather Battaly

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.

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Teaching Intellectual Virtues

Teaching Philosophy

Heather Battaly

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.

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