Stoicism and Virtue Signaling vs Vice Signaling

In this article, I specifically redefine “virtue signaling” to make a point.  I give “virtue signaling” a positive meaning since most people accused of “virtue signaling” are actually doing the right thing.

Often we hear people complain about others who virtue signal.  But what is virtue signaling?  Virtue signaling is usually a form of argumentation and rhetoric that defends the dignity or importance of classes of people, whether they are black, women, homosexuals, trans, and non-binary.  When you signal your virtues you’re calling people to the fact that you and they should care about these issues.  After all, virtue isn’t just something that should be important to one person, it should be important to everyone.

Vice signaling doesn’t tend to use logic or empirical claims but rather attacks virtue signalers merely on the basis that they’re virtue signalers.  In fact, vice signalers define virtue signaling as an attempt for person who virtue signals to score social points, pat themselves on the back, or do what’s in their self-interest.

Why call it “vice signaling”?  It’s vice signaling because by only attacking virtue signalers but not their arguments, they’re defying principles of logic based on wisdom.  Their entire strategy is illogical thus vicious.  It doesn’t add to the dialogue, it subtracts from the dialogue.  Vice signalers might have a point that some virtue signalers out there are just pretending to care but whether a virtue signaler pretends to care is besides the point.  The vice signaler still needs to address the virtue signalers arguments rather than attack the virtue signaler him/herself.

Vice signaling isn’t just a problem because the person is being illogical and thus vicious but their attitude even has negative consequences.  It derails discussion, it poisons the dialogue, it even harms women and minorities because it tries to silence them.

Musunious Rufus, Epictetus, Cato the Younger, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca were among many virtue signalers.  We don’t know their true intentions perfectly.  You know, maybe Epictetus really did virtue signal because he wanted to increase his social approval.  But we’ll never know.  We should be thinking about what we know about him, his arguments and what conclusions they were driving.

One of the saddest parts about vice signalers who are pretending to be Stoics in FB Stoic Groups is they often are angry/hateful and try to conceal this fact.  But they can’t seem to conceal it as hard as they try.  Vice signaler’s hatred/anger can explode in any minute but it usually releases a little pressure in the form of snide remarks, attacks on the person themselves, complaining about others not being Stoic enough, voicing their concerns about group members being Post-Modern Cultural Marxists, express disgust with political discussions relating to Stoicism, and responding to questions with questions rather than attempting to answer the initial questions in good faith.

One of the easiest ways I can spot a vice signaler is when I first post my “liberal and progressive” Stoic views on some topic and first comment is “No” without any explanation.  Often a vice signaler is the first person to react to my post with an angry face emoticon.  It’s not always the case but it tends to be the case.

I would like to say this about vice signalers though even though they may derail discussion with their snide remarks, it is best to try to help them see the light by discussing the issues with them without attacking their character.

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Photo by 邱 韬 on

One thought on “Stoicism and Virtue Signaling vs Vice Signaling

  1. Thank you for sharing this interesting post. I actually was ignorant of the terms “virtue signaling”and “vice signaling.”

    Vice signallers do seem quite a sad bunch, seemingly so lost in the world that they just given up, and choose only to piss on things.

    I agree with your concluding thoughts. Despite their disposition, they deserve our compassion.

    Liked by 1 person

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