People Listen to People Who Listen: Instilling Virtues of Deference

In Christian Miller (ed.), The Character Project: New Perspectives in Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology. Oxford University Press (2015)
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Abstract

We often fail to defer to sources who know what they’re talking about. When doing so consistently, we fail to manifest a virtue of deference. This is because epistemic virtues are dispositions that promote epistemic goals, and knowledge is an epistemic goal. The present paper makes two points about how to instill this virtue. First, virtues of deference can be instilled by promoting compliance with requests on the part of good sources to be listened to, since listening is conducive to believing. Second, recent research in social psychology on the relationship between justice and compliance suggests that one way to promote compliance with such requests is by having the relevant sources manifest a virtue of their own, namely that of procedural justice, which involves as a crucial component being prepared to listen.

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