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.
Intellectual humility, I argue in this paper, is a cluster of strong attitudes directed toward one's cognitive make-up and its components, together with the cognitive and affective states that constitute their contents or bases, which serve knowledge and value-expressive functions. In order to defend this new account of humility I first examine two simpler traits: intellectual self-acceptance of epistemic limitations and intellectual modesty about epistemic successes. The position defended here addresses the shortcomings of both ignorance and accuracy based (...) accounts of humility. (shrink)
Two intellectual vices seem to always tempt us: arrogance and diffidence. Regarding the former, the world is permeated by dogmatism and table-thumping close-mindedness. From politics, to religion, to simple matters of taste, zealots and ideologues all too often define our disagreements, often making debate and dialogue completely intractable. But to the other extreme, given a world with so much pluralism and heated disagreement, intellectual apathy and a prevailing agnosticism can be simply all too alluring. So the need for intellectual (...) class='Hi'>humility, open-mindedness, and a careful, humble commitment to the truth are apparent. In this book, Dr Church and Dr Samuelson explicate a robust and vibrant account of the philosophy and science of this most valuable virtue, and they highlight how it can be best applied and personally developed. (shrink)
Rae Langton offers a new interpretation and defense of Kant's doctrine of things in themselves. Kant distinguishes things in themselves from phenomena, and in so doing he makes a metaphysical distinction between intrinsic and relational properties of substances. Langton argues that his claim that we have no knowledge of things in themselves is not idealism, but epistemic humility: we have no knowledge of the intrinsic properties of substances. This interpretation vindicates Kant's scientific realism, and shows his primary/secondary quality distinction (...) to be superior even to modern-day competitors. And it answers the famous charge that Kant's tale of things in themselves is one that makes itself untellable. (shrink)
This chapter explores an unappreciated psychological dimension of intellectual humility. In particular, I argue there is a plausible connection between intellectual humility and epistemic egocentrism. Epistemic egocentrism is a well-known cognitive bias – often called ‘the curse of knowledge’ – whereby an agent attributes his or her own mental states to other people. I hypothesize that an individual who exhibits this bias is more likely to possess a variety of traits that are characteristic of intellectual humility. This (...) is surprising because intellectual humility is often regarded as an antidote to cognitive biases, whereas I claim that a particular cognitive bias (namely, the curse of knowledge) may help foster an intellectual virtue. (shrink)
The distinction at the heart of Kant's philosophy is a metaphysical distinction: things in themselves are substances, bearers of intrinsic properties; phenomena are relational properties of substances. Kant says that things as we know them are composed "entirely of relations", by which he means forces. Kant's claim that we have no knowledge of things in themselves is not idealism, but humility: we have no knowledge of the intrinsic properties of substances. Kant has an empiricist starting-point. Human beings are receptive (...) creatures. We must be affected by the things of which we come to have knowledge. Kant believes that humility follows from this fact of receptivity. Humility does follow from receptivity, once a further premise is supplied. Kant believes that relational properties, causal powers in particular, are not reducible to intrinsic properties, and that intrinsic properties are therefore causally inert. Receptivity implies that we can have knowledge only of what can affect us. Irreducibility implies, in Kant's view, that intrinsic properties cannot affect us. Humility follows from these. This interpretation finds support in a range of critical and pre-critical writings, but there is a special focus on an early anti-Leibnizian argument for irreducibility that has considerable philosophical merit. One advantage of this interpretation is that the following famous contradiction is dissolved: things in themselves exist, and are the causes of phenomena, and we have no knowledge of them as they are in themselves. Moreover Kant's scientific realism, surprising on an idealist interpretation, makes sense. It does not conflict with Kant's claim that he makes all the qualities secondary--he means that he makes them powers, or in Locke's terms, tertiary qualities. Kant's "primary"/secondary quality distinction is superior to widely accepted alternatives, and his application of the irreducibility argument to the primary qualities challenges some current orthodoxies. Kant's commitment to the unobservables of science is permitted by his understanding of receptivity: we can have knowledge of anything that can affect us. Kant's scientific realism, and his humility, thus have a common source. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the relationship of virtue, argumentation, and philosophical conduct by considering the role of the specific virtue of intellectual humility in the practice of philosophical argumentation. I have three aims: first, to sketch an account of this virtue; second, to argue that it can be cultivated by engaging in argumentation with others; and third, to problematize this claim by drawing upon recent data from social psychology. My claim is that philosophical argumentation can be conducive to (...) the cultivation of virtues, including humility, but only if it is conceived and practiced in appropriately ‘edifying’ ways. (shrink)
We critique two popular philosophical definitions of intellectual humility: the “low concern for status” and the “limitations-owning.” accounts. Based upon our analysis, we offer an alternative working definition of intellectual humility: the virtue of accurately tracking what one could non-culpably take to be the positive epistemic status of one’s own beliefs. We regard this view of intellectual humility both as a virtuous mean between intellectual arrogance and diffidence and as having advantages over other recent conceptions of intellectual (...)humility. After defending this view, we sketch remaining questions and issues that may bear upon the psychological treatment of intellectual humility such as whether evidence will help determine how this construct relates to general social humility on the one hand, and intellectual traits such as open-mindedness, curiosity, and honesty on the other. (shrink)
What do humility, intellectual humility, and open-mindedness mean in the context of inter-group conflict? We spend most of our time with ingroup members, such as family, friends, and colleagues. Yet our biggest disagreements —— about practical, moral, and epistemic matters —— are likely to be with those who do not belong to our ingroup. An attitude of humility towards the former might be difficult to integrate with a corresponding attitude of humility towards the latter, leading to (...) smug tribalism that masquerades as genuine virtue. These potentially conflicting priorities have recently come to the fore because “tribal epistemology” has so thoroughly infected political and social discourse. Most research on these dispositions focuses on individual traits and dyadic peer-disagreement, with little attention to group membership or inter-group conflict. In this chapter, we dilate the social scale to address this pressing philosophical and social problem. (shrink)
In ‘Ramseyan Humility’ David Lewis argues that a particular view about fundamental properties, quidditism, leads to the position that we are irredeemably ignorant of the identities of fundamental properties. We are ignorant of the identities of fundamental properties since we can never know which properties play which causal roles, and we have no other way of identifying fundamental properties other than by the causal roles they play. It has been suggested in the philosophical literature that Lewis’ argument for (...) class='Hi'>Humility is merely an instance of traditional scepticism, to which traditional responses to scepticism are applicable. I agree that in ‘Ramseyan Humility’ Lewis does present an argument to which it is appropriate to consider the applicability of responses to traditional scepticism—he argues that we irredeemably lack the evidence to rule out possibilities in which different properties occupy the causal roles described by our best physical theory. And prima facie this is just the kind of argument responses to traditional scepticism are designed to tackle. However, I will argue that Lewis bolsters this argument with a second. This second argument serves to deepen Lewis’ case and cannot be met with a response to traditional scepticism. For Lewis argues that not only do we lack evidence for which properties play which roles, we lack the ability to grasp any such proposition about role-occupancy. And if we cannot grasp any such proposition we cannot know it. (shrink)
Kant once wrote, “Many historians of philosophy... let the philosophers speak mere nonsense.... They cannot see beyond what the philosophers actually said to what they really meant to say.’ Rae Langton begins her book with this quotation. She concludes it, after a final pithy summary of the position that she attributes to Kant, with the comment, “That, it seems to me, is what Kant said, and meant to say”. In between are some two hundred pages of admirably clear, tightly argued (...) exegesis, supplemented by detailed references, in which she offers what the dust jacket blurb fairly describes as “a new interpretation and defence of Kant’s doctrine of things in themselves.” This is an extremely engaging and thought-provoking book. I am pleased to recommend it. (shrink)
Ramseyan humility is the thesis that we cannot know which properties realize the roles specified by the laws of completed physics. Lewis seems to offer a sceptical argument for this conclusion. Humean fundamental properties can be permuted as to their causal roles and distribution throughout spacetime, yielding alternative possible worlds with the same fundamental structure as actuality, but at which the totality of available evidence is the same. On the assumption that empirical knowledge requires evidence, we cannot know which (...) of these worlds is actual. However, Lewis also appeals to a range of familiar semantic principles when framing his argument, which leads some authors to suppose that he can also plausibly be interpreted as offering a purely semantic argument for humility in addition. In this paper I grant that these arguments are Lewisian, but argue that Lewis is also committed to a theory of mind that licenses a purely metaphysical argument for humility based on the idea that mental properties supervene on fundamental structure. Given that knowing which x is the F requires knowing that a is the F, the supposition that we could come to know which properties actually occupy the fundamental roles entails differences in mental properties between worlds with the same fundamental structure, violating supervenience. Humility follows right away, without any further epistemic or semantic principles. This argument is immune to almost every way of rebutting the sceptical and semantic arguments; conversely, almost every way of rebutting the metaphysical argument tells equally against the others. (shrink)
In the Ethics Spinoza defines certain traditional virtues such as humility and repentance as species of sadness and denies that they are virtues. He nonetheless holds that they can turn out to be useful as a means towards virtue—in fact, the greatest virtue of blessedness—in the life of someone who is not guided by reason. In this paper, I examine Spinoza’s relatively overlooked claim regarding the usefulness of sad passions as a means towards blessedness. In taking up Spinoza’s treatment (...) of humility as my case study, I show that there is a tension between this claim and his other explicit commitments in the Ethics. More specifically, after considering his views regarding the consequences of humility—including, most notably, its susceptibility to envy—and conditions of achieving blessedness, I show that humility cannot effectively be said to bring about cooperation and push “weak-minded” people in the right direction so that, in the end, they may be free and enjoy blessedness. I conclude by suggesting that if we must rely on passions as a means towards virtue in the Spinozistic universe, we must rely not on debilitating sad passions such as humility, but on joy-based social passions such as love. -/- . (shrink)
My argument in this paper is that humility is implied in the concept of teaching, if teaching is construed in a strong sense. Teaching in a strong sense is a view of teaching as linked to students’ embodied experiences (including cognitive and moral-social dimensions), in particular students’ experiences of limitation, whereas a weak sense of teaching refers to teaching as narrowly focused on student cognitive development. In addition to detailing the relation between humility and strong sense teaching, I (...) will also argue that humility is acquired through the practice of teaching. My discussion connects to the growing interest, especially in virtue epistemology discourse, in the idea that teachers should educate for virtues. Drawing upon John Dewey and contemporary virtue epistemology discourse, I discuss humility, paying particular attention to an overlooked aspect of humility that I refer to as the educative dimension of humility. I then connect this concept of humility to the notion of teaching in a strong sense. In the final section, I discuss how humility in teaching is learned in the practice of teaching by listening to students in particular ways. In addition, I make connections between my concept of teaching and the practice of cultivating students’ virtues. I conclude with a critique of common practices of evaluating good teaching, which I situate within the context of international educational policy on teacher evaluation. (shrink)
In this chapter I argue that intellectual humility is related to argumentation in several distinct but mutually supporting ways. I begin by drawing connections between humility and two topics of long-standing importance to the evaluation of informal arguments: the ad verecundiam fallacy and the principle of charity. I then explore the more explicit role that humility plays in recent work on critical thinking dispositions, deliberative virtues, and virtue theories of argumentation.
Although virtues have gained a firm presence in the theory and practice of corporate management, humility is not ranked as one the chief virtues in the business world. In spite of this, it is an important virtue, contributing to the manager’s moral and professional quality and the development of the company’s human team. This paper explains the basic traits of humility in general and how they manifest in the manager’s life and profession, and shows, within the ethics of (...) virtues, that it is not just a personal desideratum but a fundamental quality of a good manager and good management. (shrink)
People don't always speak the truth. When they don't, we do better not to trust them. Unfortunately, that's often easier said than done. People don't usually wear a ‘Not to be trusted!’ badge on their sleeves, which lights up every time they depart from the truth. Given this, what can we do to figure out whom to trust, and whom not? My aim in this paper is to offer a partial answer to this question. I propose a heuristic—the “Humility (...) Heuristic”—which is meant to help guide our search for trustworthy advisors. In slogan form, the heuristic says: people worth trusting admit to what they don't know. I give this heuristic a precise probabilistic interpretation, offer a simple argument for it, defend it against some potential worries, and demonstrate its practical worth by showing how it can help address some difficult challenges in the relationship between experts and laypeople. (shrink)
Intellectual humility is commonly thought to be a mindset, disposition, or personality trait that guides our reactions to evidence as we seek to pursue the truth and avoid error. Over the last decade, psychologists, philosophers, and other researchers have begun to explore intellectual humility, using analytical and empirical tools to understand its nature, implications, and value. This review describes central questions explored by researchers and highlights opportunities for multidisciplinary investigation.
Humility has not always been regarded as a virtue. Aristotle, if he recognized it at all, seems to have regarded it as a vice, a deficiency in regard to magnanimity. In the popular culture of the twenty-first century, while courage is held in high moral esteem, the regard given to humility is more questionable. Humility, however, is not universally dismissed as a virtue. Many see it as having moral value. In fact, a number of contemporary philosophers are (...) relatively clear that humility is a morally valuable trait and so is a moral virtue, although they disagree about its character. For traditional Christianity and Judaism, of course, and for other religious traditions, humility is a religious virtue. However, if humility is a religious virtue, is it different from humility as a moral virtue? Below, we shall start in section II with the question, What is the best way to understand the general notion of humility? In section III it shall be followed by the question, What are the core contrasting states that humility opposes? Third , in section IV we shall ask, Does humility as a religious virtue have a distinctive and abiding character? (shrink)
Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth, 2013, 6th edition, eds. Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. In this essay, I argue that the moral skepticism objection to what is badly named "skeptical theism" fails.
David Lewis argues for Ramseyan humility, the thesis that we can’t identify the fundamental properties that occupy the nomological roles at our world. Lewis, however, remarks that there is a potential exception to this, which involves assuming two views concerning qualia panphenomenalism : all instantiated fundamental properties are qualia and the identification thesis : we can know the identities of our qualia simply by being acquainted with them. This paper aims to provide an exposition, as well as an assessment, (...) of this response to the humility thesis. (shrink)
Say that an agent is "epistemically humble" if she is less than certain that her opinions will converge to the truth, given an appropriate stream of evidence. Is such humility rationally permissible? According to the orgulity argument : the answer is "yes" but long-run convergence-to-the-truth theorems force Bayesians to answer "no." That argument has no force against Bayesians who reject countable additivity as a requirement of rationality. Such Bayesians are free to count even extreme humility as rationally permissible.
Some of the most interesting works in virtue ethics are the detailed, perceptive treatments of specific virtues and vices. This chapter aims to develop such work as it relates to intellectual virtues and vices. It begins by examining the virtue of intellectual humility. Its strategy is to situate humility in relation to its various opposing vices, which include vices like arrogance, vanity, conceit, egotism, grandiosity, pretentiousness, snobbishness, haughtiness, and self-complacency. From this list vanity and arrogance are focused on (...) in particular. Humble persons are not distinguished from arrogant persons by being unaware of or unconcerned with entitlements; rather, they lack the arrogance that entails a specific kind of motivation called ‘ego-exalting potency’. Humble people are motivated by pure interests regarding entitlements given their ability to serve as means to some valuable purpose or project. The chapter ends by considering a wide variety of ways intellectual humility can promote the acquisition of epistemic goods. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that one strong motivation for adopting a conciliatory stance with regard to the epistemology of peer disagreement is that the non-conciliatory alternatives are incompatible with the demands of intellectual character, and incompatible with the virtue of intellectual humility in particular. It is argued that this is a mistake, at least once we properly understand what intellectual humility involves. Given some of the inherent problems facing conciliatory proposals, it is maintained that non-conciliatory approaches to epistemic (...) peer disagreement are thus on much stronger dialectical ground than many suppose, including some defenders of this line. In particular, non-conciliatory proposals can resist the idea that epistemic peer disagreement directly weakens one’s epistemic justification, as conciliatory views maintain. This means that the epistemic justification that our beliefs in this regard enjoy, and thus our knowledge, is more secure than conciliatory approaches to epistemic peer disagreement would suggest. (shrink)
The virtue of humility is often considered to be at odds with common business practice. In recent years, however, scholars within business ethics and leadership have shown an increasing interest in humility. Despite such attention, the argument for the relevance of humility in business could be expanded. Unlike extant research that focuses on humility as a character-building virtue or instrumentally useful leadership trait, this article argues that humility reflects the interdependent nature of business. Through such (...) an approach, the article gives an extrinsic motivation of the relevance of humility in business, and, from a theoretical point of view, links the intra-personal and intra-organizational perspective on humility to an inter-organizational one. The article contextualizes the virtue of humility by relating it to the economic, cognitive, and moral aspects of business practice and managerial work. It claims that the assumption of self-sufficiency in business is a grave misrepresentation of what business is—a practice characterized by interdependency. Potential links between virtue ethics, leadership, and contextually oriented theories of business, such as stakeholder theory, network theories, and resource dependence theory, are also identified. (shrink)
In some circles, faith is said to be one of three theological virtues, along with hope and agape. But not everyone thinks faith is a virtue, theological or otherwise. Indeed, depending on how we understand it, faith may well conflict with the virtues. In this chapter we will focus on the virtue of humility. Does faith conflict with humility, or are they in concord? In what follows, we will do five things. First, we will sketch a theory of (...) the virtue of humility. Second, we will summarize a common view of faith, arguably held by Thomas Aquinas among others, and we will argue that Thomistic faith is not an intellectual virtue and that it conflicts with humility in the domain of inquiry. Third, we will plump for an older view of faith, one that predates Aquinas by at least 1500 years, Markan faith. Fourth, we will argue that Markan faith is an intellectual virtue and it is in concord with humility in the domain of inquiry. Fifth, we will argue that Markan faith, unlike Thomistic faith, is a personal virtue and that it is in concord with humility in the domain of personal relationships, both human-human and human-divine. (shrink)
Viewed from a certain perspective, nothing can seem more secure than introspection. Consider an ordinary conscious episode—say, your current visual experience of the colour of this page. You can judge, when reflecting on this experience, that you have a visual experience as of something white with black marks before you. Does it seem reasonable to doubt this introspective judgement? Surely not—such doubt would seem utterly fanciful. The trustworthiness of introspection is not only assumed by commonsense, it is also taken for (...) granted by many of theorists about the mind. Within both philosophy and the science of consciousness it is widely held that introspection is generally reliable, at least with respect to the question of one’s current (or immediately prior) conscious states. Without this assumption, we could not make sense of theorists’ widespread use of introspection, both in support of their own position and to undermine that of their opponents. (shrink)
In his essay, “Affording our Culture: “Smart” Technology and the Prospects for Creative Democracy,” Tibor Solymosi addresses my challenge for neuropragmatism to counter what I have elsewhere called dopamine democracy. Although I believe that Solymosi has begun to provide an explanation for how neuropragmatism may counter dopamine democracy, especially with his conceptions Œ and cultural affordances, I respond with a helpful addition to his approach by returning to the theory of inquiry as put forth by John Dewey. In particular, I (...) focus on the phases of inquiry as colored by Dewey’s concept of humility. Solymosi does not pay adequate attention to the function of inquiry necessary for combatting dopamine democracy. His account of cultural affordances and education is strengthened by using Dewey’s concept of humility as a guiding disposition for neuropragmatic inquiry. Recognizing humility as an instrument of neuropragmatic inquiry provides us with a tool to better address the pitfalls of dopamine democracy, especially misinformation and incentive salience. My argument proceeds by first articulating dopamine democracy as a problem and Solymosi’s concept of cultural affordances and how he understands these as neuropragmatic tools to address the problem through education. I present humility as an instrumental concept derived from Dewey’s work on inquiry. I then suggest how humility may serve neuropragmatic inquiry to assist in combatting the problems of dopamine democracy. (shrink)
Physicians and other medical practitioners make untold numbers of judgments about patient care on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. These judgments fall along a number of spectrums, from the mundane to the tragic, from the obvious to the challenging. Under the rubric of evidence-based medicine, these judgments will be informed by the robust conclusions of medical research. In the ideal circumstance, medical research makes the best decision obvious to the trained professional. Even when practice approximates this ideal, it does (...) so unevenly. Judgments in medical practice are always accompanied by uncertainty, and this uncertainty is a fickle companion—constant in its presence but inconstant in its expression. This feature of medical judgments gives rise to the moral responsibility of medical practitioners to be epistemically humble. This requires the recognition and communication of the uncertainty that accompanies their judgment as well as a commitment to avoiding intuitive innovations. (shrink)
In "Ramseyan Humility," David Lewis argues that we cannot know what the fundamental properties in our world are. His arguments invoke the possibility of permutations and replacements of fundamental properties. Most responses focus on Lewis’s view on the relationship between properties and roles, and on the assumptions about knowledge that he makes. I argue that no matter how the debates about knowledge and about the metaphysics of properties turn out, Lewis’s arguments are unconvincing since they rely on a highly (...) implausible assumption about the expressive power of our language. (shrink)
Since the wife-husband team of Anne Case and Angus Deaton popularized the term deaths of despair, psychologists have become more interested in decoupling despair from clinical depression and anxiety. Despair’s central marker is the loss of hope. It is characterized by feelings of social and spiritual isolation, meaninglessness, hopelessness, helplessness, demoralization, and shame. Causes of despair are complex, ranging from individual (e.g., grief, bad health, addiction, abuse), to societal (e.g., social and cultural dislocation, unemployment, economic disaster, poverty), to a combination (...) of both. Sometimes, acknowledging and/or addressing despair’s material causes is enough. But the problem with despair is that it tends to generate a vicious cycle of self-defeat. Often, it manifests in self-perpetuating negative cognitive biases, self-defeating emotional reactions, and self-destructive behavior. To break free, the person must address the psychological and spiritual roots of her despair. Here, I offer insights from a Christian tradition grounded in the monastic spirituality of the Desert Fathers in the hopes that these might help a therapist seeking to do just that. After distinguishing between an emotion and a sin of despair, I locate the latter’s roots in the vices of acedia and pride. Finally, I point to the virtue of humility as a traditional cure for despair. (shrink)
This book proposes an account of humility that relies on the most radical Christian sayings about humility, especially those found in Augustine and the early monastic tradition. It argues that this was the view of humility that put Christian moral thought into decisive conflict with the best Greco-Roman moral thought.
This paper argues that several leading theories of subjunctive conditionals are incompatible with ordinary intuitions about what credences we ought to have in subjunctive conditionals. In short, our theory of subjunctives should intuitively display semantic humility, i.e. our semantic theory should deliver the truth conditions of sentences without pronouncing on whether those conditions actually obtain. In addition to describing intuitions about subjunctive conditionals, I argue that we can derive these ordinary intuitions from justified premises, and I answer a possible (...) worry for my derivation by refuting a subjunctive triviality result modeled on (Lewis 1976). I conclude that the debate over the correct theory of subjunctive conditionals requires settling meta-philosophical questions about the relative value of various virtues of first-order theories of subjunctive conditionals. (shrink)
A familiar point in the literature on the epistemology of disagreement is that in the face of disagreement with a recognised epistemic peer the epistemically virtuous agent should adopt a stance of intellectual humility. That is, the virtuous agent should take a conciliatory stance and reduce her commitment to the proposition under dispute. In this paper, we ask the question of how such intellectual humility would manifest itself in a corresponding peer disagreement regarding knowledge-how. We argue that while (...) it is relatively straightforward to recast this debate in terms of a reductive intellectualist account of knowledge-how, whereby knowledge-how just is a matter of having a particular propositional attitude, the issue becomes more complex once we turn to anti-intellectualist positions. On these views, after all, such a disagreement won’t be just a matter of disagreeing about the truth of a proposition. Accordingly, to the extent that some kind of conciliation is plausibly required of the virtuous agent in the face of a recognised peer disagreement, this conciliation will not consist simply in belief revision. We propose a novel way to address this problem. We claim that what is required of the epistemically virtuous agent when confronted with peer disagreement regarding knowing how to φ is that thereafter she should be disposed to employ her way of φ-ing across a narrower range of practical circumstances than beforehand. Moreover, just as an agent needs to call on her intellectual virtues in order to determine the extent of conciliation required in an ordinary case of epistemic peer disagreement, so the intellectual virtues will play an important role in determining this shift in dispositions to φ that occurs as regards epistemic peer disagreement about knowledge-how. (shrink)
Beginning with the Untimely Meditations (1873) and continuing until his final writings of 1888-9, Nietzsche refers to humility (Demuth or a cognate) in fifty-two passages and to modesty (Bescheidenheit or a cognate) in one hundred and four passages, yet there are only four passages that refer to both terms. Moreover, perhaps surprisingly, he often speaks positively of modesty, especially in epistemic contexts. These curious facts might be expected to lead scholars to explore what Nietzsche thinks of humility and (...) modesty, but to date there have been no systematic analyses of Nietzsche’s reflections on these dispositions. In this chapter, I fill that gap in the literature using semantic network analysis and systematically-guided close-reading. In so doing, I show that Nietzsche sharply distinguished between humility and modesty, considering the former a vice (for certain types of people in certain contexts) and the latter a virtue (again, for certain types of people in certain contexts). (shrink)
This article discusses conceptions of modesty and humility and their key features. It gives a brief historical overview of debates about whether or not they’re really virtues at all. It also discusses theories of modesty and humility that root them in the presence or absence of particular beliefs, emotions, desires, and attention. it also discusses related phenomena in epistemology: rational limits on self-ascription of error, attitudes to disagreement, and openness to alternative views.
A case could be made that the practice of philosophy demands a certain humility, or at least intellectual humility, requiring such traits as inquisitiveness, openness to new ideas, and a shared interest in pursuing truth. In the positive psychology movement, the study of both humility and intellectual humility has been grounded in the methods and approach of personality psychology, specifically the examination of these virtues as traits. Consistent with this approach, the chapter begins with a discussion (...) of the examination of intellectual humility as a “character trait,” comparing intellectual humility to various well-known traits in the personality psychology literature (e.g the “Big 5” and the “Big 2”) as well as other key traits such as the need for cognition and the need for closure. The chapter then turns to the proverbial issue of whether virtues in general, and intellectual humility in particular, are a matter of “nature”- that is, an innate trait determined by heritability, or “nurture” – a trait mostly shaped by situation and environment. While the chapter does not resolve the issue, it provides occasion for an examination of the role of situations in the expression of intellectual humility, and for the interaction of “situation” and “trait.” The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the interaction of trait with situation provides the most robust understanding of the psychology of any character virtue, including humility and intellectual humility. (shrink)
Various studies have recognized the importance of humility as a foundational aspect of virtuous leadership and have revealed the beneficial effects of leader humility on employee moral attitudes and behaviors. However, these findings may overestimate the benefits of leader humility and overlook its potential costs. Integrating person–supervisor fit theory and balance theory with the humility literature, we employ a dyadic approach to consider supervisor and employee humility simultaneously. We investigate whether and how the congruence of (...) supervisor and employee humility influences employee citizenship and deviance behaviors. We conducted a multilevel, multiphase, and multisource field study to test our hypotheses. The results of cross-level polynomial regression analyses revealed that when supervisors and employees were incongruent in humility, employees experienced higher levels of negative affect toward supervisors. Also, compared to those in low–low congruent dyads, employee negative affect toward supervisors was lower in high–high congruent dyads. The results further revealed asymmetric incongruence effects: employees experienced the highest levels of negative affect toward supervisors when their own humility was lower than their supervisors’. In addition, we found that employee negative affect toward supervisors mediated the impacts of supervisor–employee congruence in humility on employee organizational citizenship behavior and counterproductive work behavior. (shrink)
I define humility as a virtue that includes both proper self-assessment and a self-lowering other-centeredness. I then argue that humility, so understood, is a virtue in the context of sport, for several reasons. Humility is a component of sportspersonship, deters egoism in sport, fuels athletic aspiration and risk-taking, fosters athletic forms of self-knowledge, decreases the likelihood of an athlete seeking to strongly humiliate her opponents or be weakly humiliated by them, and can motivate an athlete to achieve (...) greater levels of excellence in her sport. In the context of team sports, humility can contribute to an athlete being a better teammate, foster unity amidst diversity within a team, and contribute to the overall moral and athletic excellence of a team. I also argue that an individual who is truly the world's greatest athlete can know and communicate this truth, while remaining humble. (shrink)
Little research exists on humility in human learning and from a cultural perspective. This article reviews current research and conceptualizes humility as a basic human potential that can become a virtue when cultivated. But the cultivation depends on the cultural values placed on humility. Although humility is recognized in the West, ambivalence toward it exists because it may contradict important Western values of self-esteem and self-confidence in learning. By contrast, the Confucian conception of humility is (...) geared toward moral self-cultivation in learning. In discussing this type of humility, the West appeals more to cognitive considerations of correctness or wrongness of one’s beliefs and acceptance of one’s fallibilities as a knower/learner. Quite differently, the Confucian view presumes the learner as never-full and warns about the trap of conceit, appealing to one’s constant need to self-improve. The more one achieves, the greater the need to remain humble. The condition for fostering such humility and a likely developmental process are entertained. (shrink)
This paper offers a novel, secular account of the virtue of humility. There are only two such accounts in recent philosophical literature: one defended by Julia Driver, the other by George Schueler. Driver attaches the virtue of humility to people who underestimate their merits, or lack beliefs about their merits altogether. Schueler thinks that humility requires indifference to how we are regarded vis-à-vis our accomplishments. This paper brings out the limitations of those accounts and constructs a new (...) one which is free of them. The new account derives directly from the under-appreciated approach defended a century ago by Hastings Rashdall, who developed a secular (albeit religiously-inspired) account of humility according to which true humility reflects love for one's neighbour. After indicating the flaws in Rashdall's approach, I develop an account based on his intuitions. Specifically, I argue that humility requires suppressing our egos when they lead us to neglect or disregard other duties. Humility comprises two dimensions: a private dimension, for when we uphold self-regarding duties rather than succumb to the temptations of ego; and a public dimension, for when we display fidelity to other-regarding duties at the expense of the pleasures of ego. (shrink)
It is sometimes claimed that faith is a virtue. To what extent faith is a virtue depends on what faith is. One construal of faith, which has been popular in both recent and historical work on faith, is that faith is a matter of taking oneself to have been spoken to by God and of trusting this purported divine testimony. In this paper, I argue that when faith is understood in this way, for faith to be virtuous then it must (...) be accompanied by intellectual humility. I defend this view by showing how someone ought to respond to purported divine testimony if her faith is to be intellectually humble, and how, if it fails in this respect, it will instead be accompanied by the vices of either servility or arrogance. (shrink)
In the literature on intellectual humility, the standard view is that intellectual humility and political conviction do not conflict. As Michael Lynch says, “[i]ntellectual humility is not an opponent of conviction” (2019: 150) and is “not antithetical to critical political engagement” (ibid: 151). Yet, the standard view arguably ignores empirical and theoretical work indicating that intellectual humility does result in apathy or lack of political conviction. In this paper, we explore three ways in which intellectual (...) class='Hi'>humility may threaten political conviction: exposure to diversity, the role of empathy, and epistemic calibration. We also suggest that certain forms of intellectual humility could sometimes develop into a form of quietism. (shrink)