What is intellectual humility? In this essay, we aim to answer this question by assessing several contemporary accounts of intellectual humility, developing our own account, offering two reasons for our account, and meeting two objections and solving one puzzle.
After a brief overview of what intellectual virtues are, I offer three arguments for the claim that education should aim at fostering ‘intellectual character virtues’ like curiosity, open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and intellectual honesty. I then go on to discuss several pedagogical and related strategies for achieving this aim.
With its focus on intellectual virtues and their role in the acquisition and transmission of knowledge and related epistemic goods, virtue epistemology provides a rich set of tools for educational theory and practice. In particular, characteristics under the rubric of "responsibilist" virtue epistemology, like curiosity, open-mindedness, attentiveness, intellectual courage, and intellectual tenacity, can help educators and students define and attain certain worthy but nebulous educational goals like a love of learning, lifelong learning, and critical thinking. This volume is devoted to (...) exploring the intersection between virtue epistemology and education. It assembles leading virtue epistemologists and philosophers of education to address such questions as: Which virtues are most essential to education? How exactly should these virtues be understood? How is the goal of intellectual character growth related to other educational goals, for example, to critical thinking and knowledge-acquisition? What are the "best practices" for achieving this goal? Can growth in intellectual virtues be measured? The chapters are a prime example of "applied epistemology" and promise to be a seminal contribution to an area of research that is rapidly gaining attention within epistemology and beyond. (shrink)
Open-mindedness enjoys widespread recognition as an intellectual virtue. This is evident, among other ways, in its appearance on nearly every list of intellectual virtues in the virtue epistemology literature.1 Despite its popularity, however, it is far from clear what exactly open-mindedness amounts to: that is, what sort of intellectual orientation or activity is essential to it. In fact, there are ways of thinking about open-mindedness that cast serious doubt on its status as an intellectual virtue. Consider the following description, from (...) Robert Roberts and Jay Wood (2007), of a ‘bright college freshman, taking an introductory course in philosophy.’ Given this student’s ‘taste for ideas,’ she .. (shrink)
Standard characterizations of virtue epistemology divide the field into two camps: virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism. Virtue reliabilists think of intellectual virtues as reliable cognitive faculties or abilities, while virtue responsibilists conceive of them as good intellectual character traits. I argue that responsibilist character virtues sometimes satisfy the conditions of a reliabilist conception of intellectual virtue, and that consequently virtue reliabilists, and reliabilists in general, must pay closer attention to matters of intellectual character. This leads to several new questions and (...) (...) challenges for any reliabilist epistemology. (shrink)
The value problem in epistemology is rooted in a commonsense intuition to the effect that knowledge is more valuable than true belief. Call this the “guiding intuition.” The guiding intuition generates a problem in light of two additional considerations. The first is that knowledge is (roughly) justified or warranted true belief. The second is that on certain popular accounts of justification or warrant (e.g. reliabilism), its value is apparently instrumental to and hence derivative from the value of true belief. But (...) if knowledge is justified true belief and the value of justification is derivative from that of true belief, how is it that knowledge is more valuable than true belief? (shrink)
This paper examines the claim made by certain virtue epistemologists that intellectual character virtues like fair-mindedness, open-mindedness and intellectual courage merit an important and fundamental role in epistemology. I begin by considering whether these traits merit an important role in the analysis of knowledge. I argue that they do not and that in fact they are unlikely to be of much relevance to any of the traditional problems in epistemology. This presents a serious challenge for virtue epistemology. I go on (...) to examine the work of two other virtue epistemologists in light of this challenge and then sketch an alternative approach that reveals how the intellectual virtues might merit a substantial role in epistemology even if not a role in connection with more traditional epistemological projects. (shrink)
Open-mindedness enjoys widespread recognition as an intellectual virtue. This is evident, among other ways, in its appearance on nearly every list of intellectual virtues in the virtue epistemology literature. Despite its popularity, however, it is far from clear what exactly openmindedness amounts to: that is, what sort of intellectual orientation or activity is essential to it. In fact, there are ways of thinking about open-mindedness that cast serious doubt on its status as an intellectual virtue.Consider the following description, from Robert (...) Roberts and Jay Wood, of a ‘bright college freshman, taking an introductory course in philosophy.’. (shrink)
Recent scholarship in intellectual humility (IH) has attempted to provide deeper understanding of the virtue as personality trait and its impact on an individual's thoughts, beliefs, and actions. A limitations-owning perspective of IH focuses on a proper recognition of the impact of intellectual limitations and a motivation to overcome them, placing it as the mean between intellectual arrogance and intellectual servility. We developed the Limitations-Owning Intellectual Humility Scale to assess this conception of IH with related personality constructs. In Studies 1 (...) (n= 386) and 2 (n = 296), principal factor and conﬁrmatory factor analyses revealed a three-factor model – owning one's intellectual limitations, appropriate discomfort with intellectual limitations, and love of learning. Study 3 (n = 322) demonstrated strong test-retest reliability of the measure over 5 months, while Study 4 (n = 612) revealed limitations-owning IH correlated negatively with dogmatism, closed-mindedness, and hubristic pride and positively with openness, assertiveness, authentic pride. It also predicted openness and closed-mindedness over and above education, social desirability, and other measures of IH. The limitations-owning understanding of IH and scale allow for a more nuanced, spectrum interpretation and measurement of the virtue, which directs future study inside and outside of psychology. (shrink)
Abstract: Against the background of a great deal of structural symmetry between intellectual and moral virtue and vice, it is a surprising fact that what is arguably the central or paradigm moral vice—that is, moral malevolence or malevolence proper—has no obvious or well-known counterpart among the intellectual vices. The notion of "epistemic malevolence" makes no appearance on any standard list of intellectual vices; nor is it central to our ordinary ways of thinking about intellectual vice. In this essay, I argue (...) that there is such a thing as epistemic malevolence and offer an account of its basic character and structure. Doing so requires a good deal of attention to malevolence simpliciter . In the final section of the essay, I offer an explanation of our relative unfamiliarity with this trait. (shrink)
The terrain of character-based or “responsibilist” virtue epistemology has evolved dramatically over the last decade -- so much so that it is far from clear what, if anything, unifies the various views put forth in this area. In an attempt to bring some clarity to the overall thrust and structure of this movement, I develop a fourfold classification of character-based virtue epistemologies. I also offer a qualified assessmentof each approach, defending a certain account of the probable future of this burgeoning (...) subfield. (shrink)
Evidentialists maintain that epistemic justification is strictly a function of the evidence one has at the moment of belief. I argue here, on the basis of two kinds of cases, that the possession of good evidence is an insuflicient basis for justification. I go on to propose a modification of evidentialism according to which justification sometimes requires intellectually virtuous agency. The discussion thereby underscores an important point of contact between evidentialism and the more recent enterprise of virtue epistemology.
Suppose that you are engaging with someone who is your oppressor, or someone who espouses a heinous view like Nazism or a ridiculous view like flat-earthism. In contexts like these, there is a disparity between you and your interlocutor, a dramatic normative difference across which you are in the right and they are in the wrong. As theorists of humility, we find these contexts puzzling. Humility seems like the *last* thing oppressed people need and the *last* thing we need in (...) dealing with those whose views are heinous or ridiculous. Responding to such people via humility seems uncalled for, even inappropriate. But how could this be, given that humility is a *virtue*? The purpose of the paper is to explore this puzzle. We explain what the puzzle is and then attempt to draw some lessons from it: first, the lesson that the importance of humility is limited in several ways, and second, the lesson that humility nonetheless has several important roles to play, even for people who are in the right in contexts of disparity. (shrink)
The concept of wisdom is largely ignored by contemporary philosophers. But given recent movements in the fields of ethics and epistemology, the time is ripe for a return to this concept. This article lays some groundwork for further philosophical work in ethics and epistemology on wisdom. Its focus is the distinction between practical wisdom and theoretical wisdom or between phronesis and sophia . Several accounts of this distinction are considered and rejected. A more plausible, but also considerably more complex, account (...) is offered. The discussion sheds light on the relation between practical wisdom and theoretical wisdom, and on the positive character of each. (shrink)
One alleged advantage of credit theories of knowledge is that they are capable of explaining why knowledge is essentially more valuable than mere true belief. I argue that credit theories in fact provide grounds for denying this claim and therefore are incapable of overcoming the ‘value problem’ in epistemology. Much of the discussion revolves around the question of whether true belief is always epistemically valuable. I also consider to what extent, if any, my main argument should worry credit theorists.
I examine here whether reliability is a defining feature of (moral or intellectual) virtues. I argue (1) that reliability is not a defining feature of a virtue where virtues are conceived (as they often are) as “personal excellences,” but (2) that there is another (also intuitive and familiar) conception of a virtue according to which reliability is a defining feature. I also argue (3) that even on the former conception, a certain rational belief pertaining to reliability is essential and (4) (...) that reliability itself, while not a defining feature of a virtue thus conceived, nevertheless is a concomitant of it. (shrink)
__Deep in Thought_ provides an introduction to intellectual virtues—the personal qualities and character strengths of good thinkers and learners—and outlines a pragmatic approach for teachers to reinforce them in the classroom._ With a combination of theoretical expertise and practical experience, philosopher Jason Baehr endorses intellectual virtues as a rich, meaningful way to think about and understand the purpose of education. He makes a persuasive case for prioritizing intellectual virtues in the classroom to facilitate deeper learning, encourage lifelong learning, and enrich (...) teacher practice. Baehr profiles nine key virtues that enable learners to initiate the process of learning, maintain forward momentum, and overcome common obstacles. With engaging anecdotes and concrete examples, he presents a wealth of principles, postures, and practices that educators can employ in promoting essential habits of mind such as curiosity, open-mindedness, and intellectual courage. Baehr illustrates how opportunities to practice these intellectual habits can be integrated into the classroom in ways that align with current teaching practices. In addition, he shows how educators can adapt these practices to accommodate students’ identities, developmental abilities, and interests. This thought-provoking book supports all educators, especially middle and high school teachers, in teaching for intellectual virtues. _Deep in Thought_ is a philosophical and yet practical guide to one of the most important aims of education: helping students become skilled thinkers and learners. (shrink)
Virtue Epistemology Virtue epistemology is a collection of recent approaches to epistemology that give epistemic or intellectual virtue concepts an important and fundamental role. Virtue epistemologists can be divided into two groups, each accepting a different conception of what an intellectual virtue is. Virtue reliabilists conceive of intellectual virtues as stable, reliable and truth-conducive cognitive … Continue reading Virtue Epistemology →.
According to one prominent account of intellectual humility, it consists primarily of a disposition to “own” one’s intellectual limitations. This account has been criticized for neglecting the _interpersonal _dimensions of intellectual humility. We expect intellectually humble persons to be respectful and generous with their interlocutors and to avoid being haughty or domineering. I defend the limitations-owning account against this objection. I do so in two ways: first, by arguing that some of the interpersonal qualities associated with intellectual humility are qualities (...) expressive of virtues _other_ than intellectual humility; and second, by arguing that, when properly described, the kind of limitations-owning characteristic of intellectual humility in fact is robustly interpersonal. The result is a considerably broader and richer notion of the limitations the owning of which is characteristic of intellectual humility. (shrink)
After a brief overview of what intellectual virtues are, I offer three arguments for the claim that education should aim at fostering ‘intellectual character virtues’ like curiosity, open‐mindedness, intellectual courage, and intellectual honesty. I then go on to discuss several pedagogical and related strategies for achieving this aim.
The terms "a priori" and "a posteriori" refer primarily to how or on what basis a proposition might be known. A proposition is knowable a priori if it is knowable independently of experience. A proposition is knowable a posteriori if it is knowable on the basis of experience. The a priori/a posteriori distinction is epistemological and should not be confused with the metaphysical distinction between the necessary and the contingent or the semantical or logical distinction between the analytic and the (...) synthetic. Two aspects of the a priori/a posteriori distinction require clarification: the conception of experience on which the distinction turns; and the sense in which a priori knowledge is independent of such experience. The latter gives rise to important questions regarding the positive basis of a priori knowledge. (shrink)
In this chapter, we analyze intellectual patience as a character trait. We look at the contexts that call for patience and at what patience demands in those contexts. Together these constitute our account of patience, though the focus is on patience in the life of the mind. We also consider how patience and perseverance differ, which offers a better understanding of the former and sheds light on how character traits can cooperate. We then consider how to become virtuously patient. We (...) conclude reflecting on some remarks made by the poet Rilke. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between intellectual virtues and critical thinking, both as such and as educational ends worth pursuing. The first half of the paper examines the intersection of intellectual virtue and critical thinking. The second half addresses a recent argument to the effect that educating for intellectual virtues (in contrast to educating for critical thinking) is insufficiently action-guiding and therefore lacks a suitable pedagogy.
In Judgment and Agency, Ernest Sosa takes “reliabilist” virtue epistemology deep into “responsibilist” territory, arguing that “a true epistemology” will assign “responsibilist-cum-reliabilist intellectual virtue the main role in addressing concerns at the center of the tradition.” However, Sosa stops short of granting this status to familiar responsibilist virtues like open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and intellectual humility. He cites three reasons for doing so: responsibilist virtues involve excessive motivational demands; they are quasi-ethical; and they are best understood, not as constituting knowledge, but (...) rather as putting one “in a position” to know. I elaborate on and respond to each of these concerns. I argue that none of them provides Sosa with a good reason for excluding responsibilist virtues from occupying a central role in his reliabilist virtue epistemology. I conclude that Sosa owes virtue responsibilism an even wider embrace. (shrink)
My concern is with the epistemological role of traits like inquisitiveness, attentiveness, fair-mindedness, open-mindedness, intellectual carefulness, thoroughness, tenacity, and caution. I argue for two main claims, one negative and the other positive. ;Negatively, I argue that considerations of intellectual virtue do not have an important role to play in connection with any of the more traditional epistemological problems. I show that if considerations of intellectual virtue were to play such a role, it would have to be in connection with the (...) analysis of knowledge, but that any view which makes an exercise of intellectual virtue a necessary condition for knowledge is bound to fail. ;Positively, I argue that there nevertheless remain a number of interesting and important philosophical questions and issues concerning the nature and value of virtuous intellectual character which are of considerable importance to epistemology. I defend this claim in two steps. First, I argue that virtuous intellectual character is both a constituent of and a highly important means to intellectual flourishing. It follows from this that since epistemology is concerned broadly with the more important or valuable philosophical dimensions of the intellectual life, insofar as there are philosophical questions and issues to be pursued in connection with the intellectual virtues, these have an important role to play in epistemology. Second, I go on to elucidate and discuss a number of these questions and issues, most of which are concerned with the nature and value of virtuous intellectual character as such. ;I conclude, then, that considerations of intellectual virtue do have an important role to play in epistemology, even if not in connection with any of the more traditional epistemological projects. (shrink)