Exploring the “unity” of the virtues: The case of an allocentric quintet

Liz Gulliford, Robert C. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This article has two interrelated aims. First we explore a novel conceptual analysis of the “unity” of the virtues. Virtues come in clusters differentiated by broad functions within overall character. We identify three such clusters—virtues of intelligent caring, virtues of willpower, and virtues of humility. Virtues within a cluster are “unified” by some commonality, e.g., justice, compassion, and truthfulness all are kinds of intelligent caring. The allocentric virtues, a sub-class of the virtue of intelligent caring, are forms of intelligent caring about people. Virtues of willpower are capacities to manage impulses: desires, emotions, and habits. Virtues of humility are absences of vices of pride. These clusters support and exploit one another in a healthy character. Second, we explore whether empirical psychology can support conceptual analysis such as we propose. Our discussion of the conceptual analysis and empirical studies of the relations between pairs of allocentric virtues illustrates this exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-226
Number of pages19
JournalTheory and Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Compassion
  • forgiveness
  • generosity
  • humility
  • unity of virtues


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