I’ll start with some unoriginal thoughts on originality here, because I think they lead to an interesting conclusion. Originality is an important intellectual virtue. In some, it looks more like a vice, because some people do not control their interest in being original by a metavirtue that recommends a decent balance between the impetus toward originality and the desire for sane and rational belief. Even so, traits don’t cease to be virtues just because they are out of balance in some individuals. So let’s stick with the idea that originality is a virtue.
It is not a truth-conducive virtue, however.
It doesn’t make beliefs displaying originality likely to be true, and I doubt that it even raises the probability of such beliefs. That is, I doubt that the probability of truth of a belief that results from originality is greater than the probability of truth of a belief not resulting from originality. I’m inclined to think that originality is truth-inhibiting instead of truth-conducive. When I think about paradigm instances of original ideas, they are almost always false. They are interesting in spite of being false, perhaps because they open up new ways of thinking or new regions of logical space to think about, and perhaps the truth is found in these areas or the new ways of thinking hold prospects for getting to the truth that were unlikely without these new ways.
The question is what to make of this information. One might suspect, as I have done elsewhere, that the above is a threat to the fundamentality of time-slice concepts in epistemology: concepts such as rationality whose value and nature can be accounted for at some particular time t. Another idea is to turn in the direction of social epistemology, to emphasize the point that from a value-driven perspective, what is important for socially embedded beings might be different from what is important for an individual abstracted from his or her social setting. Both claims assume, of course, that originality is one of the more significant intellectual virtues, and that claim might be mistaken. I’m inclined, though, to acquiesce to my cultural milieu on this one: it is important and there are epistemological lessons to be learned from its importance that have not yet been investigated.