Investigating the dynamics of humble, open-minded thinking and inquiry.

Thanks to a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the Humility in Inquiry Project based at Arizona State University welcomes proposals to investigate the dynamics of humble, open-minded thinking and inquiry.
Project Activities

03/07/2024 — 03/08/2024 · Tempe, Arizone

Epistemic Humility and Arrogance
What is humility and arrogance in epistemology?
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Dates & Location Coming Soon

Junior Seminar in Epistemology and Psychology
Sixteen junior philosophers and psychologists + four guest speakers explore the HI paradigm.
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Dates & Location Coming Soon

Humility in Inquiry Collection Group
This multidisciplinary team of internationally-recognized researchers will develop an edited collection on humility in inquiry, co-edited by Schwarz and Ballantyne, published by a leading academic press.
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Dates & Location Coming Soon

Co-organized by Schwarz and Ballantyne, this conference will join together participants from different stages of the project, showcase significant new discoveries, and encourage future collaborations.
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Over the last decade, researchers in various disciplines have stimulated new conversations about intellectual humility (IH), a traditional philosophical topic that is now seeing growing interest in psychology and other empirical fields.

At its heart, IH encourages people to be more reasonable in their inquiry by recognizing their epistemic limitations and more open-minded as they explore difficult, controversial issues. A dispositional approach dominates the current literature. IH is almost universally treated as a personality trait, a character virtue, an epistemic mindset, or some other stable feature of persons. While philosophers and scientists offer distinctive and conflicting theoretical characterizations of IH, all accounts concur in treating IH as a stable attribute of persons, personality, or intellectual character. This is not surprising, given that influential research on IH is produced by scholars from personality psychology and virtue epistemology, where personality and character are the stock-in-trade. Consequently, there has been a proliferation of new psychometric scales to measure the trait of IH as well as philosophical analyses of IH that appeal to trait-like constructs such as dispositions and attitudes. While a dispositional approach can offer useful insights into who is intellectually humble and to which other traits IH relates, it does not illuminate what intellectually humble activities or processes are or what sort of factors support humble and open-minded inquiry. Further, a dispositional approach offers little guidance for intervention: short of a universal prescription for personality-changing therapy, how does one increase intellectual humility in inquiry?

Our project seeks to enhance research on IH by shifting the focus from characteristics of a person to characteristics of activities, processes, tasks, social contexts, social and epistemic norms, and organizational structures that foster humility in inquiry (HI), conceptualized as a state of open-minded consideration of diverse ideas or points of view. HI is a state or stance available to inquirers in some situations rather than a stable trait across situations. Which aspects of a task foster or discourage HI? How do social context and organizational structures encourage or discourage HI? Can one influence HI through instructions or the way tasks are framed? Are there procedures that make HI more or less likely? Which epistemic and social norms could influence HI? How do incentives influence HI? What is the relationship between HI and stable traits of intellectual character such as IH? Answering these questions has the potential to improve education, scientific practice, and public discourse by highlighting concrete interventions which can make people more intellectually humble.

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