*This is a co-written piece by A.K. Flowerree and Mark Satta.
Recently, there has been philosophical debate about the moral significance of virtue signaling (i.e. using moral language to make oneself look good).
Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke—who prefer the term ‘moral grandstanding’—argue that virtue signaling corrodes moral discourse and impairs moral progress. Others, like Neil Levy and Evan Westra, argue that virtue signaling is not only morally benign but also sometimes morally beneficial.
Still, as Levy notes, accusations of virtue signaling are “typically understood as a serious charge.” Implicit in Levy’s comment is the observation that virtue signaling is something that people accuse others of doing. This is the fact that interests us here. We suspect that judging others as virtue signalers causes more harm than virtue signaling itself. And we think this is epistemically and ethically significant.