Dear Lana,

I was thinking about the concept of virtue today. We do a lot of things because it is virtuous to do so, but how do we know what is virtuous and what is not virtuous?

A lot of our beliefs are grounded in virtue. But what is virtuous to me might be different from what is virtuous to someone else. I personally think diversity is a virtue; things that are diverse seem more aesthetically pleasing than things that aren’t diverse, but I recognize that not all people think this way. Some people don’t really care if diversity exists at all, and when we prioritize diversity, it is prioritizing one virtue over another.

Some people think chastity is virtue. I personally don’t care much for chastity because it is not in the list of virtues that I care about. If our society created laws that mandated chastity, I would be pretty pissed off. I’m not looking to be chaste. I don’t want there to be laws forcing me to be chaste. I guess that’s similar to how some people see diversity. It’s like being forced by society to believe something you do not believe.

That got me thinking, Lana – how do we know what is virtuous?

If someone does not believe diversity is a virtue, how do I convince them that it is? If someone wants to convince me that chastity is a virtue, how do they convince me that it is? It seems that virtue’s justification is deeply individual. I would posit to say it’s informed by past experience, but that’s just me shooting in the dark. Thus, it would seem almost impossible to convince someone that virtue exists if they have not experienced the set of experiences that deems it so.