Gossip as a Burdened Virtue

Mark Alfano*, Brian Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
930 Downloads (Pure)


Gossip is often serious business, not idle chitchat. Gossip allows those oppressed to privately name their oppressors as a warning to others. Of course, gossip can be in error. The speaker may be lying or merely have lacked sufficient evidence. Bias can also make those who hear the gossip more or less likely to believe the gossip. By examining the social functions of gossip and considering the differences in power dynamics in which gossip can occur, we contend that gossip may be not only permissible but virtuous, both as the only reasonable recourse available and as a means of resistance against oppression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-487
Number of pages15
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice: an international forum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Burdened virtue
  • Gossip
  • Reputation
  • Social epistemology
  • Virtue


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