Intellectual Humility

Intellectual humility is important. All too often, when faced with difficult questions, people are prone to dismissing and marginalizing dissent. Around the world, politics is incredibly polarizing and, in many parts of the world, extremely dangerous. And whether it’s Christian fundamentalism, Islamic jihadism, or militant atheism, religious dialogue remains tinted by a terrifying and dehumanizing arrogance, dogma, and ignorance. So on the face of it, the world needs more people who are sensitive to their own intellectual failings and limitations. The world needs more intellectual humility.

 

Over the past 6 years, I have been working on the topic of intellectual humility in connection to a few major research initiatives: with the “Science of Intellectual Humility” ($5.4m) at the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology; with the “Philosophy and Theology of Intellectual Humility” project at Saint Louis University; and most recently with the “Intellectual Humility Massive Open Online Course” project at the University of Edinburgh.  This research has lead to a monograph, several articles, and a massive online course on intellectual humility. 

Monograph

Intellectual Humility: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Science (with Peter L. Samuelson). Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

ABSTRACT: 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 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.

“An excellent overview of what intellectual humility is and why it matters both in terms of research questions and broader social implications. It will be an extremely useful resource to a wide variety of readers.” - Frank Keil, Charles C. & Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Psychology and Linguistics, Yale University, USA

 

“A landmark work in the scholarly study of intellectual humility, the most comprehensive and genuinely interdisciplinary treatment available.” - Justin L. Barrett, Professor of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA

 

“Philosophers, psychologists, and religious scholars interested in an engaging and nuanced approach to understanding intellectual humility will discover a veritable treasure in this volume.” - Victor Ottati, Professor of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, USA

 

“An excellent and lively treatment of one of the most important intellectual topics of our time.” - Duncan Pritchard, Chair of Epistemology, University of Edinburgh, UK. 

Online Course Project

From July 2012 through June 2015, the Templeton Foundation invested in three major funding initiatives on the study of intellectual humility (IH): the “Science of Intellectual Humility” initiative at the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology ($5.3M), the “Philosophy and Theology of Intellectual Humility” initiative at Saint Louis University ($3M), and the “Development, Validation, and Dissemination of Measures of Intellectual Humility and Humility” initiative at the Rosemead School of Psychology ($1.5M). These generous grants are generating a tremendous amount of energy, interest, and excellent scholarship on IH; however, none of them included any measure for capturing and disseminating this research for the broader public on a massive scale.

 

Thanks to a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation (and additional support from Eidyn and PPLS), the Intellectual Humility Massive Open Online Course (IH MOOC) project satisfies such an end. Drawing from (i) the high-impact research from these previous grants and (ii) the Eidyn research centre's experience spearheading the creation of MOOCs in philosophy, the project aims to construct, administer, and successfully conduct a MOOC on the science, philosophy, and theology of IH.

 

Project Type: Outreach (Large--c. £400k in total)

Project Team: 

 

Principle Investigators: Dr. Ian M. Church and Prof. Duncan Pritchard 

 

Collaborators: Prof Jason Baehr (Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University); Dr Katherine Dormandy (Philosophy, University of Innsbruck); Prof Catherine Elgin (Education, Harvard University); Prof Peter Graham (Philosophy, University of California, Riverside); Prof John Greco (Philosophy, Saint Louis University); Prof Peter C. Hill (Psychology, Biola University); Prof. Frank Keil (Psychology, Yale University); Prof Cristine Legare (Psychology, University of Texas at Austin); Prof Victor Ottati (Psychology, Loyola University, Chicago); Prof Vasu Reddy (Psychology, University of Portsmouth); Peter L. Samuelson (Director of Research and Evaluation, Thrive Foundation for Youth); Prof. John Schellenberg (Philosophy, Mount Saint Vincent University); Prof Eleonore Stump (Philosophy, Saint Louis University).

My Lectures