A reader commented on a recent column that she gave up after a few paragraphs because of the “PC virtue signalling” they contained: I had foolishly suggested that the homicidal maniacs who thrived as the henchmen of empire might not, after all, deserve to have SA cities and universities named after them. 

It is curious, when you think about it, that “virtue signalling” should be invoked as a term of derision. Following Plato and Aristotle, huge swathes of the Western philosophical tradition — beloved by the kind of people who employ “woke” in sarcastic streams of invective and who readily dismiss “political correctness” — are in fact dedicated to the question: how does one live a virtuous life?

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now