Seeking True Beliefs

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—Excellence in the Quest for Knowledge

Introduction[edit]

True beliefs are a subset of reality. Intellectual virtues are motivations toward true beliefs. Skills and faculties assist us in acting on virtuous motives and seeking true beliefs.

How important is it to you to hold beliefs that are true rather than beliefs that are false? How do you choose what knowledge is important for you to acquire and understand? Do you take personal responsibility for the truth of your own beliefs? Can you handle the truth?[1] Are you more interested in attaining true beliefs than in: wielding power, winning an argument, adhering to an ideology, social conformity, respect for authority, loyalty, pride, comfort, or ambivalence?

History shows us the dangers of holding false beliefs such as: human sacrifice, quackery, slavery, mass suicides, the inquisition, moral panic, specious arguments, genocide, and totalitarianism. True beliefs, on the other hand, have brought us: indoor plumbing, sanitary systems, medical advances, agricultural advances, labor saving machines, photography, electric lighting, telephones, radio, trains, automobiles, air travel, calculators, liberty, and human rights.

Beliefs that are true are those that correspond to reality. Because each of us is able to choose our own beliefs, we can decide to choose true beliefs. Intellectual virtues, the primary topic of this course, are motivations toward true beliefs. Intellectual virtues are the character traits of a good thinker or learner.[2] In this course, we’ll be looking at the virtues of: love of knowledge, firmness, courage and caution, humility, autonomy, perseverance, generosity, insightfulness, and practical wisdom. Each of these virtues is an intention toward attaining true beliefs.

However, intention is not enough. Motivations toward true beliefs need to be coupled with various skills that enable us to assess whether these beliefs correspond with reality. These skills include: reading, observing, fact finding, evaluating evidence, investigation skills, dialogue, sound reasoning, mathematical reasoning, and many others. Attaining true beliefs is as much a matter of will as it is of skill.

The diagram on the right provides a conceptual overview of the structure of this course. In the diagram, true beliefs are shown as a subset of reality using a Venn diagram representation—true beliefs accurately describe some portion of reality. Intellectual virtues are illustrated at the apex of a pyramid directed toward true beliefs. Below these in the pyramid are the techniques, methods and practices that are useful for assessing our beliefs. These skills in turn rely on various faculties—natural abilities—that are so basic to being human they may be taken for granted.

These faculties include our senses, such as acute eyesight and attuned hearing, reliable memory, language, inference, and others.

The intellectual virtues are acts of will that engage and amplify our faculties while overcoming—or at least diminishing—our frailties in pursuit of true beliefs.

In this course, we will look at how to develop motivations toward true beliefs—our intellectual virtues—and some of the techniques, methods and practices that are useful for assessing our beliefs.

Exercising the moral virtues results in actions for the good. Similarly, exercising the intellectual virtues results in true beliefs.

Objectives[edit]

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The objectives of this course are to help you to:

  • Improve your own practice of the intellectual virtues,
  • Explore your motivations toward true beliefs,
  • Learn how to learn,
  • Increase your cognitive contact with reality,
  • Attain a firm basis for evaluating beliefs,
  • Take personal responsibility for the beliefs you hold,
  • Attain true beliefs,
  • Dismiss untrue beliefs,
  • Embrace reality as our common ground.

The topic of this course is traditionally known to philosophers as the study of intellectual virtues, epistemic virtue, or virtue epistemology[3]. I often use the term seeking true beliefs throughout this course with the intent of making the material more accessible to a wider audience.

Philosopher Jason Baehr compares the values pursued by the intellectual virtues to those of moral virtues: “However, these values are ‘intellectual’ in nature. They include things like knowledge, understanding, thinking, reasoning, wondering, being open to experience, acknowledging one’s intellectual limitations, embracing intellectual challenge and struggle, and so on.”[4]

All students are welcome and there are no prerequisites to this course. If you are having difficulty with any of the material, it may be beneficial to begin your studies at the beginning of the Clear Thinking curriculum. Students interested in learning more about the moral virtues may be interested in the Wikiversity course on virtues.

The course contains many hyperlinks to further information. Use your judgment and these link following guidelines to decide when to follow a link, and when to skip over it.

This course is part of the Applied Wisdom curriculum and of the Clear Thinking curriculum.

If you wish to contact the instructor, please click here to send me an email or leave a comment or question on the discussion page.

OK, let’s begin seeking true beliefs!

Choosing Your Beliefs[edit]

A belief is a state of mind in which you hold something to be true.[5] Beliefs may range from true to false, spanning various degrees of likelihood, doubt, indifference, or unawareness. True beliefs correspond to reality. We are influenced by many factors that ripple through our minds as our beliefs form, evolve, and may eventually change.

Which table is longer?

To what extent do you choose your beliefs? To find out, please try this experiment. Look at the two tables shown in the diagram on the left. (This is known as the Shepard’s Tables illusion.[6])

Do you believe:

  1. The table on the left is longer than the table on the right?
  2. The table on the right is longer than the table on the left?
  3. The two tables are the same size?

Now use a ruler to carefully measure the size of each table. Based on this measurement, reconsider your belief about the relative size of the two tables.

Did you choose what to believe before measuring the tables?

Do you choose what to believe now that you’ve measured the tables?

In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman describes a dichotomy between two distinct modes of thinking. These modes of thought are briefly described as:

  • "System 1"—fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, and subconscious;
  • "System 2"—slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, and conscious.

In the experiment above, it is likely that you first engaged system 1 thinking to immediately conclude the table on the left was longer. After reconsideration, you engaged system 2 thinking, deliberately measured the images, and concluded the two tables are the same size.

Beliefs are voluntary when we have an opportunity to engage conscious thought—system 2 thinking, reflective access, or awareness—in forming those beliefs. We choose beliefs when we have an opportunity to reflect on those beliefs.

Reasons to Believe[edit]

We are influenced by many factors that ripple through our minds as our beliefs form, evolve, and may eventually change.

Carefully evaluating evidence is the most reliable approach for choosing true beliefs. Evidence informs true beliefs. In his 1877 paper “The Ethics of Belief” philosopher William Clifford strongly advocated a philosophy now known as evidentialism with the statement:

(Clifford's Principle) “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.”[7]

And then, in a somewhat softer statement:

(Clifford's Other Principle) “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to ignore evidence that is relevant to his beliefs, or to dismiss relevant evidence in a facile way.” [8]

In support of this view, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on The Ethics of Belief states:

“Evidentialism of some sort is far and away the dominant ethic of belief among early modern and contemporary philosophers alike. The central principle, [of Evidentialism], is that one ought only to base one's beliefs on relevant evidence (i.e. evidence that bears on the truth of the proposition) that is in one's possession.” The entry elaborates: “Many Evidentialists (Locke, Hume, and Clifford, for example) add the condition that the amount of evidence in one's possession must be proportioned to one's degree of belief, and that one should only firmly believe on the basis of “sufficient” evidence (where “sufficient” involves the evidence being strong enough for the belief to count as knowledge if true).”[9]

Our beliefs may be true or false. True beliefs correspond to reality. Because we can choose to form beliefs using reliable processes rather than unreliable processes “…we are responsible for our own habits of forming beliefs… .”[10]

We often conceive of and state beliefs in ways that are too vague to be evaluated as true or false. We may say “I believe in freedom “, or “I believe in fairness” or “I believe in patriotism” or “I believe in marriage.” But each of these concepts is so complex that the stated belief is not clear. When a person states “I believe in freedom” are they describing freedom for themselves, freedom for a few others, or freedom for everyone? Is this freedom unlimited? Does this include the freedom to harm others? What limits on freedom might they have in mind?

People may state their beliefs in terms of some probability or likelihood. For example “I believe it is likely that life exists on other planets” or “I believe it may rain today.” Although it may be true or false that this person believes it may rain, the stated belief is true regardless of the weather outcome because it is so vaguely stated.

Ideally, for a belief to be assessed as either true or false, the statement of belief must be precise enough to be falsifiable. When a statement is falsifiable it is possible to conceive of an observation or an argument which can negate the claim.

Assignment[edit]

  1. Complete the Wikiversity course on Evaluating Evidence.
  2. Choose your beliefs based on careful evaluation of evidence.

Real Hope Yields to Evidence[edit]

We often form beliefs even when clear evidence is lacking, insufficient, or ambiguous. In cases of inconclusive evidence we may be able to suspend judgement, accommodate the ambiguity, or choose some belief that seems advantageous to us. This weakly founded belief may be chosen to give us comfort, inspire our hope, feed our optimism, satisfy some moral principle, or for some other practical reason. It is important, however, to remain flexible in changing this belief as more evidence becomes available.

If you are diagnosed with cancer and told you have only a 10% chance of living, it is probably helpful for you to believe you will be one of the survivors. Optimism is often helpful, but hope must yield to reality.

Admiral James Stockdale was the highest ranking US military officer in the Hoa Loa prisoner-of-war camp during the Vietnam War. He was brutally tortured more than twenty times over the eight years he was imprisoned from 1965 to 1973. During that time he dedicated himself to helping the other soldiers survive the ordeal. Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great, asked Stockdale how he endured, and who in the camp failed to endure. In answering Stockdale said: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you cannot afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever that may be.”

Jim Collins summarizes this wisdom as the “Stockdale Paradox”:

Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties

and at the same time

Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.

Optimism and reality combine for real hope. Hope must yield to evidence. Hope must yield to reality.

Assignment[edit]

  1. Consider some belief you hold that is primarily supported by hope.
  2. What contrary evidence, if any, are you avoiding, discounting, denying, or distorting to sustain that hope?
  3. Are you “confronting the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be”?
  4. If you objectively and fairly evaluate the evidence, must your hope yield to that evidence? Why or why not?
  5. Do you now choose to change some belief based on this reevaluation?
  6. Reflect on this question: are you seeking true beliefs?

Willing to Believe[edit]

Because we are able to choose our own beliefs, choosing true beliefs is a matter of will—your ability to choose deliberately, intentionally, and voluntarily.

In Pensées, Blaise Pascal wrote:

“The will is one of the chief organs of belief, not that it creates belief, but because thinking things are true or false according to the aspect by which we judge them. When the will likes one aspect more than another, it deflects the mind from considering the qualities of the one it does not care to see. Thus the mind, keeping in step with the will, remains looking at the aspect preferred by the will and so judges by what it see there.“

In her book Virtues of the Mind, Linda Zagzebski makes the strong case that intellectual virtues—the willful decision to choose true beliefs—are not just analogous to moral virtues, but indeed are moral virtues.

She gives several examples:

  • the intellectual vice of conformity is as voluntary as the moral vice of greed,
  • the lack of will demonstrated by the prideful person who dismisses fair criticism of his positions is comparable to the vengeful person who retaliates in a business deal,
  • Intellectual prejudice is no easier to overcome than ethical prejudices.

Agreeing with Pascal and others regarding the role of will, Linda Zagzebski takes the position that beliefs, like acts, arrange themselves on a continuum of degrees of voluntariness, ranging from quite a bit to none at all.[11]

Roberts and Wood agree when they propose “that the will is a central epistemic faculty, and that its proper formation is crucial to intellectual character.”[12]

Because beliefs are attained voluntarily, we choose our beliefs. Therefore we are responsible for the beliefs we hold.

Carefully attained true beliefs are more valuable than arbitrarily obtained beliefs. If person “A” holds a particular belief based on a conscientious examination of representative evidence from reliable sources, and person “B” holds a contrary belief based on a whim, the two conditions are not comparable. To claim that “each person is equally entitled to his or her own belief” is a false equivalency based on a false analogy that ignores essential differences in the intent and skill exercised by the two people in choosing their beliefs.

Assignment[edit]

Consider a variety of beliefs you currently hold.

  1. Scan your beliefs to identify some belief you currently hold that you did not choose to hold.
  2. How did you form that belief? Why do you still retain that belief?
  3. Do you hold yourself responsible for the beliefs you hold? If not, why not? What beliefs do you currently hold that you do not hold yourself responsible for? Do you hold beliefs that you know are not true?
  4. Do you hold yourself responsible for the truth—correspondence with reality—of the beliefs you hold?
  5. Reflect on this question: are you seeking true beliefs?

Summary[edit]

The following statements summarize this section on choosing your beliefs:

  1. We are able to choose our beliefs.
  2. Therefore personally responsible people willingly and willfully choose their beliefs.
  3. Therefore we are personally responsible for the beliefs we hold.
  4. Therefore we are morally responsible for the beliefs we hold.
  5. Therefore we can choose to seek true beliefs.
  6. Therefore we are morally responsible for the truth of the beliefs we hold. Holding true beliefs is morally praiseworthy. Holding untrue beliefs is morally blameworthy.
  7. We have the justified opportunity to hold others accountable for their beliefs.

Knowledge[edit]

Valuing Knowledge[edit]

It is generally recognized that knowledge is good, and humans have an intrinsic motivation to acquire knowledge. For example, Aristotle begins the Metaphysics with the declaration, “All men by nature desire to know.”[13]

Agreeing with John Locke[14], Linda Zagzebski states: “the motivation for knowledge is an intrinsic good that is not derivative from the value of the possession of knowledge.”[15] Simply stated, people seek knowledge because seeking knowledge is good.

The goal to seek widespread significant knowledge without widespread significant error motivates epistemic evidentialism.[16] In other words, an evidentialist evaluates methods of knowing based on the accuracy of those methods. Methods that result more often in true beliefs are superior to methods that are more likely to result in false beliefs.

Defining Knowledge[edit]

Although it is widely held that knowledge is good, there is less agreement on what knowledge is, and what knowledge is most important to acquire.

The traditional definition of knowledge as “justified true belief” is difficult to defend rigorously, and alternative conceptions of knowledge continue to be sought. To solve various problems with this traditional definition of knowledge, various philosophers have recently turned to the intellectual virtues in search of a more satisfactory definition.

Linda Zagzebski proposes this alternative definition of knowledge:

Knowledge is a state of belief arising out of acts of intellectual virtue.[17]

Basically this is stating that knowledge is what a skillful person motivated toward true beliefs will choose to believe.

Forms of Knowledge[edit]

Knowledge exists in several forms, including propositional knowledge, acquaintance, and understanding.

  • Propositional knowledge—"Knowing that..."—is the type of knowledge that is, by its very nature, expressed in declarative sentences or indicative propositions.[18] These are facts and figures you can recall. For example: the earth is nearly spherical, Paris is the capital of France, air is approximately 78% nitrogen, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, whales are mammals, etc.
  • Acquaintance—is experiencing for oneself.[19] Knowledge by acquaintance is obtained through a direct experience-based interaction between a person and the object that person is perceiving. This is your firsthand experience with something. For example, you are acquainted with the taste of coffee, or feeling chilled on a very cold day, or the pain of a headache, or the effort of running a marathon. Roberts, and Wood provide these characterizations: “Sensory experience is a necessary condition of some kinds of knowing. It is hard to see how one could know what coffee tastes like without tasting some…”[20] “So acquaintance is a kind of knowledge that typically involves understanding, and does not necessarily involve belief, even when it is propositional.”[21]
  • Understanding—is grasping the complexity, interconnection, causality, or other structure of something. For example, you might understand why the sun (appears to) rise each morning, what causes earthquakes, what causes the tides, how a gyroscope works, or how to predict the weather. Explaining something requires understanding. Roberts, and Wood provide these characterizations: “Understanding often emerges only with concerted intellectual activities like exploration, testing, dialectical interchange, probing, comparing, writing, and reflecting.”[22] “The central feature of understanding is the grasping of coherence in something complex…”[23]

In addition to these forms of knowledge there is also procedural knowledge—knowing how to perform some task—for example knowing how to tie your shoes or how to ride a bike or juggle. Procedural knowledge does not entail beliefs; instead it is acquired by doing. Procedural knowledge may also be called non-propositional knowledge.

Throughout this course we mean knowledge to express a richly intertwined bundle of understanding, acquaintance, and propositional knowledge.”[24] Roberts and Wood use the phrase “intellectual goods” roughly meaning important knowledge, understanding, or acquaintance. In their terminology, intellectual goods consist of some excellent grasp of important knowledge.

Assignment[edit]

  1. List examples of your own propositional knowledge.
  2. List examples of your own knowledge from acquaintance.
  3. List examples of something you understand well enough to explain in detail.
  4. Find examples where you have propositional, acquaintance, and understanding. For example, perhaps you can recite facts about the sunrise, have enjoyed seeing a sunrise, and can explain what causes the sun to (appear to) rise.

Virtues[edit]

Virtue is excellence, and human virtue is excellence in being human.

There are many ways in which a person can be excellent, including:

  • Performance excellence—doing things right.—A physically strong person with an excellent memory can use those assets for good or for evil. Certain virtues, such as having a good memory or being physically strong are certainly valuable, but they lack any particular disposition toward the good. These performance virtues are distinct from moral virtues because moral virtues are concerned with the good.
  • Moral excellence—doing the right thing, taking good actions. Often when the word virtue is used alone it is intended to refer to moral virtue. The Wikiversity course on Virtues focuses on the moral virtues.
  • Intellectual excellence—seeking true beliefs. This course focuses primarily on these intellectual virtues.

Commonly identified human virtues include: wisdom, courage, benevolence, justice, honesty, generosity, compassion, mercy, gratitude, humility, tolerance, and others. While these virtues are often thought of as moral virtues, they are also important intellectual virtues.

Because virtue is an excellence of the person it is connected directly with the idea of good.[25] A virtue is an acquired human excellence.[26] A virtuous person is someone who not only has a good heart—intends to do good—but is also successful in making the world a place where people with a good heart want to be.[27]

These ideas are captured in these more formal definitions of virtue. Roberts and Wood propose that:

“in general a human virtue is an acquired base of excellent functioning in some generically human sphere of activity that is challenging and important.”[28]

In her book Virtues of the Mind, Linda Zagzebski defines a virtue as:

“A deep and enduring acquired excellence of a person, involving a characteristic motivation to produce a certain desired end and reliable success in bringing about that end.”[29]

These definitions capture several important features of a virtue:[30]

  1. A virtue is an acquired excellence of the person in a deep and lasting sense. Virtues are salient and excellent elements of a person’s character. Virtues have many features of habits in that they develop over a long period of time. Virtue is contrasted with vice, which is an acquired defect of a person’s character. We may often describe a person in terms of the virtues (or vices) that most often characterize them.
  2. A person must deliberately devote time and effort toward developing virtues. Because of the time and effort required, virtues attain a deep and lasting quality that begins to make the virtue part of the person’s identity.
  3. A virtue has a deeper intrinsic value than a skill.
  4. A virtue is a motivation that directs actions toward an identifiable end. Motives are intentional.
  5. Virtue is oriented toward success. A person only possesses a virtue if they reliably attain the goal of the virtue’s motivation. For example, we only praise a person for being fair (having the virtue of fairness) if the actions of that person reliably result in outcomes that are recognized as being fair.

Zagzebski argues that intellectual virtues are best viewed as forms of moral virtue, and deliberately forms her definition in a way that includes both the traditional moral virtues and the intellectual virtues. In the same way that moral virtues are motivations toward good acts, intellectual virtues are motivations toward true beliefs.

Roberts and Wood agree when they say: “We find it unhelpful to try to draw a strict line between the intellectual and the moral virtues.”

How people learn to believe in the way they should rather than in the way they want parallels how they lean how to act in the way they should rather than the way they want.[31] As examples consider how the virtues of: honesty, courage, generosity, tolerance, humility, and perseverance contribute to both moral excellence and intellectual excellence.

Because true beliefs are aligned with reality, Zagzebski observes that “All intellectual virtues have a motivational component that aims at cognitive contact with reality.”[32] The motivational basis of intellectual virtue needs to be described as the motivation for truth or cognitive contact with reality, where that is understood to include contact that is high quality and nonpropositional.[33]

Virtue Overcomes Vice[edit]

Human frailties breed false beliefs.

A virtue is an acquired excellence; however a vice is an acquired defect[34] that exposes many human frailties.

While humans are endowed with many facilities, we are also susceptible to many frailties. Willfully and deliberately exercising the virtues helps us overcome these frailties. Many human frailties are inclinations toward false beliefs, as illustrated in the diagram to the right.

Common human frailties including: confirmation bias, prejudice, motivated reasoning, wishful thinking, selfishness, egocentrism, fear, vanity, envy, jealousy, hate, revenge, laziness, impatience, boredom, distraction, cowardice, social pressures, arrogance, rigidity, obstinacy, need-to-be right, carelessness, illusion, superstitions, gullibility, deceit, malice, negligence, apathy, ignorance, obtuseness, and others naturally, effortlessly, and often unknowingly influence the beliefs we form. This often leads to false beliefs.

We willfully and effortfully exercise our virtues to overcome our natural inclination to succumb to our vices. True beliefs arise when our intellectual virtues overcome our vices. False beliefs arise when our intellectual virtues are overcome by our vices.

Assignment[edit]

  1. Identify several virtues that you have attained or that you aspire to.
  2. Classify each as being a performance virtue, a moral virtue, an intellectual virtue, or some combination of these.
  3. Identify several vices you are susceptible to. What virtue, if any, typically prevails over each vice?

The Intellectual Virtues[edit]

The intellectual virtues are motivations toward true beliefs. Various researchers have identified a variety of intellectual virtues.

The central focus of Loraine Code’s approach[35] is the notion of epistemic responsibility, arguing that an epistemically responsible person is especially likely to succeed in the most important areas of the cognitive life—seeking true beliefs. She claims epistemic responsibility is the virtue "from which other virtues radiate". Some of these associated virtues are open-mindedness, intellectual openness, honesty, and integrity.[36]

James Montmarquet identifies the chief intellectual virtue as epistemic conscientiousness, which he characterizes as a desire to achieve the proper ends of the intellectual life, especially the desire for truth and the avoidance of error.”[37]

Linda Zagzebski[38] identifies several virtues including: recognizing salient facts, sensitivity to detail, open-mindedness in collecting and appraising evidence, fairness, intellectual humility, perseverance, diligence, care, thoroughness, adaptability, recognizing reliable authority; insight into people, problems and theories, and the teaching virtues including candor.

Jason Baehr[39] focuses on the nine intellectual virtues of: curiosity, intellectual autonomy, intellectual humility, attentiveness, intellectual carefulness, intellectual thoroughness, open-mindedness, intellectual courage, and intellectual tenacity.

Roberts and Wood identify: love of knowledge, firmness, courage and caution, humility, autonomy, perseverance, generosity, insightfulness, and practical wisdom. Because of its generality and scope, we use their framework as the headings for the following sections.

Love of Knowledge[edit]

Love of knowledge is a motivation to pursue true beliefs regarding important knowledge.[40]

People who love knowledge are intrinsically motivated to gain a deep understanding of important knowledge. They seek to learn what is important, what is true, they weigh evidence for and against various beliefs, and they seek coherence in their set of beliefs. They can recognize salient facts and pay attention to relevant details. They are skilled at evaluating the reliability of authorities, experts, and other sources.

Roberts and Wood characterize a person who exemplifies the virtue of love of knowledge as wanting significant rather than trivial, relevant rather than irrelevant, knowledge. They want knowledge that ennobles human life and promotes human well-being rather than knowledge that degrades and destroys. They want true beliefs, not false ones.[41]

Love of knowledge is a matter of intent.

  • If your goal is to win the argument you are choosing love of winning over love of knowledge.
  • If your goal is to exert power you are choosing love of power over love of knowledge.
  • If your goal is to promote an ideology you are choosing love of ideology over love of knowledge.
  • If your goal is to conform socially you are choosing love of social conformity over love of knowledge.
  • If your goal is to obey authority you are choosing love of authority over love of knowledge.
  • If your goal is saving face you are choosing to save face over love of knowledge.
  • If your goal is to sooth your ego you are choosing love of self over love of knowledge.
  • If your goal is to remain comfortable you are choosing love of comfort over love of knowledge.

Coherence[edit]

People who love knowledge recognize that reality is coherent; however our understanding is always incomplete and evolving.[42] This can be illustrated using our evolving understanding of cosmology as an example.[43]

In ancient times the cosmos was understood as consisting simply of the earth below with the sky above. This was sufficient to explain simple observations made when standing on the earth and seeing the sky, however it was insufficient to explain how the sun, moon, and stars appear to move.

In approximately 500 BC the Greek philosopher Anaximander conceived a mechanical model of the world with the earth unsupported at the center and the stars, moon, and sun revolving around the earth. This helps to explain basic celestial motions, while failing to explain how the earth is held in place. Details of celestial motions are also inconsistent with this simple model.

Map of Anaximander's universe

Aristotle and others taught that celestial spheres were the fundamental entities of the cosmos. In the 2nd century AD, the astronomer Claudius Ptolemy standardized a geocentric model of the cosmos. This earth-centered model was remarkably accurate in describing the observed motions of the sun, stars, moon, and planets.

In 1543, the geocentric system met its first serious challenge when Nicolaus Copernicus published De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), which posited a heliocentric model where the Earth and the other planets revolved around the Sun.

When this model was proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus it was based on little more than speculation until the careful astronomical observations by Tyco Brahe, laws of planetary motions developed by Johannes Kepler, observations of the moon, the phases of Venus, and the moons of Jupiter by Galileo Galilei, and the law of universal gravity developed by Isaac Newton, gave us a more complete understanding.

The heliocentric model of the universe described by Isaac Newton in 1687 and explained by his laws of motion and law of universal gravitation proved to be very accurate. Discrepancies between this model and careful observations lead to the discovery of the planet Neptune. This provided further corroboration of the Newtonian model. A discrepancy regarding the perihelion precession of the planet Mercury demonstrated limitations of the Newtonian model and remained unexplained until this anomaly in Newton’s model corroborated Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.

Current theories of the cosmos seek to explain the size and extent of the universe, the formation of stars, galaxies, and planets, the dynamics of the universe, the origins of chemical elements, and many other mysteries that arise as the cycle of exploration, explanation, anomalies, paradigm shift, and further exploration continues.

Other examples where evolving theories reveal coherence include: 1) the germ theory of disease, 2) the theory of biological evolution, 3) plate tectonics, 4) the special theory of relativity, 5) the general theory of relativity, 6) quantum mechanics, 7) and the standard model of particle physics. In each case existing observations are explained by a theory which is eventually superseded by a more general and accurate theory providing greater explanatory power.

While the lover of knowledge seeks coherence among her beliefs, the mature lover of knowledge will tolerate inevitable inconsistencies while seeking a structure with greater explanatory power. Rejecting simplistic, superficial, and often false explanations, people motivated toward true beliefs seek an elegant yet comprehensive and accurate explanatory framework. As the examples above illustrate, this is often revealed as an elegant simplicity that is only reached after slogging through a messy and complex series of preliminary and partial understanding.

Roberts and Woods provide guidance on when incoherence can be tolerated and when it is a cause for concern. Use good judgements regarding which apparent incoherencies are important, and about whether they are important for oneself, and about whether now is the time to be concerned about them.[44] “High intellectual functioning sometimes requires living for periods of time with what appears to be incoherent set of important beliefs. So intellectual virtue includes the ability to live with the discomfort of puzzlement…”[45]

This essay describing how Science is like a living tree provides a useful way to understand how coherence is increased as exploration and discovery continue to evolve.

Important Knowledge[edit]

Because “discrimination among epistemic goods[46] is essential to the virtue that consists in loving them”[47] the lover of knowledge seeks out important information and avoids wasting time on trivia. Three primary criteria identify important knowledge.

Important knowledge is:

  • Significant—knowledge is significant when it forms the basis for other important knowledge. To assess the significance a particular belief, consider what other beliefs depend on this belief. “Beliefs can gain in value by being supports for other beliefs.”[48] Knowledge is trivial and unimportant unless other knowledge depends on it. “The gawker’s desire and delight are going nowhere”[49] because nothing important depends on this information. Memorizing page 550 of the Wichita phone book is not generally useful. “The fact and extent of some of knowledge’s bearing an epistemic load is thus one of the criteria by which the lover of knowledge discriminates in her appetite for knowledge.”[50]
  • Worthy—knowledge that promotes human well-being is worthy. Worthy information has a bearing on human flourishing and the intrinsic importance of their objects.[51]
  • Relevant—This knowledge is useful because it helps to solve important problems. “The intellectually virtuous person is acutely circumspect—that is, has a strong and sharp sense of the relevance of the parts of his knowledge to his current circumstances and his finitude—and his appetite for knowledge will be governed, in part, by his sense of relevance”[52] People who love knowledge also enjoy solving problems.[53]

Communication[edit]

“The two main kinds of social roles people occupy with respect to [knowledge] are those of acquiring it from others and purveying it to others.”[54]

People who love knowledge not only enjoy acquiring knowledge, they also enjoy sharing knowledge with others. As knowledge is shared, take care to ensure the accuracy and clarity of your communications. Be impeccable with your word.[55] Advance no falsehoods. Be careful to identify and clear up any actual or potential misunderstandings. Be clear about your own depth of understanding of the knowledge you are sharing. Describe your own uncertainties and doubts about the reliability of the information you are sharing. Distinguish among fact, controversy, opinion, and taste. Identify the sources used to attain the knowledge you are sharing. Discuss the reliability of those sources. Include a discussion of relevant and responsible competing viewpoints. Seek objectivity and disclose any sources of bias that may prevent you from being totally objective. Be candid about any vices that may be occluding or diminishing your perspicacity—your perceptual and cognitive clarity, discernment, and accurate insight.

Intellectual integrity[edit]

Exercising integrity requires being honest and having strong moral principles; being morally upright. Integrity is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards. Intellectual integrity is the will to uphold the highest standards of inquiry, fair-mindedness, accuracy, perseverance, and honesty in seeking true beliefs. Intellectual integrity is the pursuit of deep understanding of important knowledge. Intellectual integrity requires fair-mindedness and freedom from bias or prejudice. Intellectual integrity avoids motivated reasoning and confirmation bias.

Intellectual honesty characterized by an unbiased, honest attitude, is a close synonym for intellectual integrity. Harvard ethicist Louis M. Guenin describes the "kernel" of intellectual honesty to be "a virtuous disposition to eschew deception when given an incentive for deception." Don’t convey a false message even when using literal truths.[56]

Several vices can tempt us to compromise our intellectual integrity. Roberts and Wood describe several faults of epistemic will[57] that are evidence of immaturity and vice. These are:

  1. Failures of concern to know—people succumb to this lack of intellectual integrity when they avoid an opportunity to test their most closely held beliefs, or they engage such an opportunity too casually, or they offer weak defenses of their own beliefs.[58] Other examples include passing up opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of some important knowledge, a fear of paradoxes, or a lack of interest in them,[59] and overlooking anomalies.[60]
  2. Unvirtuous concerns to know—seeking knowledge so it can be used for some cruel or mischievous purpose is a lapse of intellectual integrity.[61] “Another perversion of the love of knowledge is that of being a willing purveyor or consumer of gossip.”[62] Voyeurism is a vice and must not be mistaken for a love of knowledge. Allowing your attention to be drawn toward bright and shiny objects may be fun, but it distracts you from acquiring more important knowledge.[63]
  3. Failures of concern not to know—Cleary state “you don’t want to know” when offered gossip, or the opportunity to eavesdrop or invade privacy. An appetite for gathering illicit or salacious knowledge, or a thirst for gaining knowledge that can only be used for evil demonstrates a lack of intellectual integrity.[64]
  4. Unvirtuous concerns not to know—avoiding inconvenient truths, such as the low balance in your bank account, evidence that your child is using drugs,[65] or evidence contrary to your political or religious beliefs are all failures of intellectual integrity. “When other motives conflict with the concern for truth, these defective individuals tend to forsake truth to satisfy other motives.”[66] Better choices can be made using accurate and complete information, even if gaining this information is emotionally difficult.

Curiosity[edit]

Curiosity is the virtue of wanting to understand.

Love of knowledge is often apparent as a curiosity focused on understanding important knowledge. Curiosity is a fundamental motivating virtue.[67] Curiosity results in asking good questions motivated by genuine understanding.[68]

Curiosity can take the forms of awe, wonder, and inquisitiveness.

“The virtue of curiosity aims at understanding ‘significant’ rather than trivial or salacious subject matters.”[69] Curiosity is also directed at understanding various anomalies. Does the anomaly represent a random outlier, or is it evidence of some basic lack of understanding, as in the mismatch between a geocentric model of the solar system and careful astronomical observations?

Unbridled curiosity is not a love of learning. “Unfettered curiosity is wonderful; unchanneled curiosity is not.”[70] An attraction to everything novel is called diversive curiosity.[71] In contrast, epistemic curiosity is a deeper, more disciplined effortful curiosity in pursuit of deep understating of important knowledge.

Research by George Loewenstein characterizes curiosity as a response to an information gap.[72] Curiosity is elicited when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know. Questions are formed with the intent of obtaining the information needed to close the gap. What is in the box? Why is she so sad? Who is knocking on the door? Why does the sun rise each morning?

Assignment[edit]

  1. Select a work from the following list to study for this assignment.
  2. Read the book or watch the movie you have selected to study.
  3. Identify and describe instances where love of knowledge was the primary motivation of the people portrayed.
  4. Identify motives of others who obstructed the various investigations or resisted adopting the various true beliefs being uncovered or communicated.
  5. How did a commitment to love of knowledge help each of these people overcome difficulties and other influences? What, if any, true beliefs resulted?

Firmness[edit]

How do we decide how strongly to hold onto each of our current beliefs? How do we decide when to change our beliefs?

People seeking true beliefs choose their beliefs based on an integrated assessment of the available relevant and reliable evidence. Their beliefs are based on a deep understanding of each belief, in combination with an assessment of the correspondence of their beliefs with reality and the coherence with other beliefs. They understand evidence and arguments for and against each belief. When seeking true beliefs, hold firmly to well-founded beliefs. Change your beliefs if reliable new evidence becomes available but always know how you know. Knowing how you know is the knowledge equivalent of “let the buyer beware”. Acquiring knowledge requires holding on to our beliefs but also on adjusting them as we acquire evidence for or against them.

When you know how you know, you can be intellectually firm. When you don’t know how you know, and your beliefs are challenged, there is no basis for any deeper consideration of your beliefs. You may become obstinate and simply reassert your beliefs without giving any justification. Alternatively you may simply change your beliefs arbitrarily, because they have not basis.

John Maynard Keynes expressed the concept of firmness well when he said “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”[73] Firmness is the thoughtful position between flaccidity—changing beliefs indiscriminately—and rigidity—failing to change beliefs despite reliable contrary evidence.

People can be firm in their beliefs when those beliefs are based on sound reasoning. If new information provides a new basis for reason, then the beliefs can change. If no better information is presented, then there is no reason to change beliefs.

The firmness with which we hold any particular belief must be guided by our motivation toward true beliefs. If our current belief is judged to be more likely the true belief, then we hold onto it. If some new belief is judged to be more likely true, then we adopt that new belief. A person who holds firm beliefs is always ready to ask “What can I learn here?” rather than “How can I squash every objection?”[74]

Our current beliefs are anchored by our current world view. We may resist changing our beliefs, even in the face of clear evidence, because of attachments we have to our current world view. Exploring our worldviews, and our reasons for holding those views, can help us become more objective.

Available evidence is filtered through our confirmation biases and interpreted through our worldview.

There are important analogies between the intellectual virtue of firmness, and the moral virtue of tolerance. Both virtues require a careful assessment of when to hold firm and when to yield to the views of others.

Flaccidity[edit]

People who lack a firm foundation for their beliefs find it is easier to fall for anything than to stand for something.[75] Their beliefs are tossed about by whatever they encounter most recently. They agree with ideas indiscriminately as they soak up gossip, embrace every fad, seek to please every acquaintance, and change their mind to embrace every opinion as they hear it. They disregard any considerations of: consistency, insight, understanding, integration of ideas, or basis in fact or reliable sources.

Rather than holding firmly to beliefs based on a deep understanding, such a belief system is weak and flaccid, allowing loosely held beliefs to flap around easily.

Rigidity[edit]

Whenever a belief is not based on reason, reason becomes irrelevant. People who hold beliefs on some non-rational basis are often rigid in those beliefs. Arguments based on reason are ineffective in altering rigidly held beliefs because reasonable arguments do not address the unreasonable basis for the belief. When people become rigid in some belief they are often accurately described as being unreasonable.

If a belief is based on respect for authority[76], obedience, loyalty, tradition, hope, or preserving some sunk cost, then reason becomes irrelevant. Beliefs become rigidly held when the motivation toward true belief is lost or superseded.

Roberts and Woods consider five kinds of rigidity: dogmatism, doxastic complacency, stolid perseverance, perceptual rigidity, and comprehensional rigidity.”[77]

  • Dogmatism—is when people base their beliefs on some doctrine. Doctrines include fundamentalism of various kinds including political, social, economic, and especially religious. Because the beliefs are codified into a coherent, yet isolated, body of instructions, appeals to reason outside that body of instruction become irrelevant. Dogmatism is a hardened position that is irrationally resistant to criticism. As a result, and somewhat paradoxically, dogmatic people do not know very clearly what it is they believe.[78]
  • Doxastic complacency—is laziness in forming beliefs.[79] When a person has formed some belief long ago, has not recently thought about the basis for this belief, and has forgotten any rational basis for the belief, they cannot be bothered to engage in reasonable reconsideration of this belief. Furthermore, because a particular belief has been adopted long ago, many other beliefs may now depend on it. Changing one belief risks having to change many beliefs, and the house of cards may come tumbling down if its shaky foundation is disturbed. It is easier and more comfortable to decline to examine such long-held beliefs.
  • Stolid perseverance—is stubbornly holding fast to some ideal hypothesis or explanatory structure—your theory of everything—despite a chronic lack of evidence. This is a well-intended perseverance that has become foolish. This is tricky because some of the most significant breakthroughs begin as ideas that seemed foolish when first proposed.
  • Perceptual rigidity—is the inability to perceive or assimilate new information because it does not fit into the customarily understood categories. For example a racist might deny the validity of some excellent achievement by someone in the disparaged group because it conflicts with his racist worldview.
  • Comprehensional rigidity—is the inability to comprehend ideas that fall outside of some narrowly defined discipline or conceptual framework. It is the inability to attain a viewpoint from some alternative framework. When a hominid scull was discovered that provided important evidence challenging a widely accepted hypothesis of human evolution, one paleontologist responded with glee excited to learn more, and another with distain, remarking “They ought to put it back in the ground”[80] because it did not fit within his existing conceptual framework for human evolution.

Determining the specific cause of rigidity in each case can provide some insight into how to dislodge that rigidity.

Open-mindedness[edit]

Open-mindedness is a virtue closely related to intellectual firmness.[81]

Because no one fully grasps the full extent of reality, we need to be willing and able to consider alternative standpoints, to give them a fair and honest hearing, and to revise our own standpoint or beliefs accordingly.[82] Unless we can be certain from the outset that our own beliefs are entirely correct, that they are without even the possibility of any kind of error, we need open-mindedness.[83]

The real intention of being open-minded requires giving the object of interest a fair, honest, and objective hearing.[84] Intellectual humility is a kind of precondition for open-mindedness.[85] Only by considering the possibility that you may not be entirely correct can you genuinely embrace alternative points of view. One reason open-mindedness is so important is that it serves to combat or mitigate a deeply felt and widely shared need to be right. Open-mindedness is a powerful antidote to confirmation bias.[86]

Open-mindedness brings us closer to true beliefs when we:

  • explore and examine our own beliefs,
  • identify gaps or inconsistencies in our understanding,
  • examine the evidence for and contrary to our beliefs,
  • consider new evidence,
  • explore our various doubts,
  • learn from others,
  • challenge our own beliefs,
  • examine the basis for the beliefs we currently hold, and
  • gain a deeper understanding of the topic at hand.

Because closed minded people fail to explore their own beliefs as described above, they tend to be stuck not in truth, but in falsehood.[87]

Jason Baehr offers this formal characterization of an open-minded person:

An open-minded person is characteristically: willing and (within limits) able to transcend a default cognitive standpoint in order to take up or take seriously the merits of a distinct cognitive standpoint.[88]

This definition characterizes open-mindedness as a willful choice to think beyond the viewpoint you have become comfortable with because you are motivated by the sincere intent of understanding an alternative point-of-view.

Because we are considering open-mindedness in the context of intellectual firmness “Don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”[89] Open mindedness is not gullibility; firm conviction and open-mindedness can coexist.[90]

Jason Baehr offers guidance on when we should exercise open-mindedness rather than intellectual tenacity or intellectual courage:[91]

  1. If you are in danger of being intellectually rigid for any of the reasons cited in the section on “rigidity” then it is helpful to participate with an open-mind and seriously consider alternative points of view,
  2. If you can learn more, strengthen your understanding, or increase the accuracy of your beliefs, then it is best to proceed with an open mind.

Open your mind with the motivation toward attaining true beliefs. Exercising your open mind is more beneficial in the company of people who are also motivated toward true beliefs than it is with people who have some other motivation. There is little benefit to indulging charlatans. Consider this analogy: if you dialogue with each of the six blind men describing the elephant, and you are able to adopt and integrate each of their viewpoints, perhaps you can come to an integrated and unified representation of an elephant. The various viewpoints all converge toward reality. However, if you are also including charlatans in the discussions who insist on describing a unicorn as if it is real and you do not distinguish this falsehood from the true representation of the elephant, you cannot come to a unified reconciliation of the information being provided.

Assignment[edit]

Complete this assignment to better understand the virtue of intellectual firmness.

  1. Watch any performance of the drama Twelve Angry Men.
  2. Notice who is firm, who is rigid, and who is flaccid during the jury deliberations.
  3. Notice when various jurors become open-minded and when they are closed minded.
  4. Notice as each juror changes their disposition and beliefs as the drama unfolds.
  5. What conditions cause each juror to change their minds? Was it information, evidence, understanding, viewpoint, empathy, interest, charisma, fear, coercion, fatigue, appeasement, accommodation, loyalty, engagement, or some other factor?

Courage and Caution[edit]

Moral courage is the decision to do the right thing despite dangers, fears, or hardships. Intellectual courage is an ability to perform intellectual tasks well despite significant threats.[92]

Throughout history brave people have taken great risks to acquire important knowledge. Exploration to discover new information began in ancient times and now extends beyond earth as modern space exploration. War correspondents take great risks to get close enough to combat action to provide written accounts, photos, or film footage. Investigative journalists often take significant personal and professional risks to uncover important information. Several medical pioneers have volunteered themselves as the first to test new medical procedures. For example, Jesse William Lazear deliberately allowed a mosquito known to be infected with yellow fever to bite him in order to study the disease. Jane Goodall lived in jungle environments for many years to better understand primate behavior.

Brave people have taken great risks to share knowledge that threatens the status quo. In 1632 Galileo published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which implicitly defended heliocentrism. Responding to mounting controversy over theology, astronomy and philosophy, the Roman Inquisition tried Galileo in 1633 and found him "vehemently suspect of heresy", sentencing him to indefinite imprisonment. Galileo was kept under house arrest until his death in 1642. Charles Darwin proceeded to research, write, and publish his book The Origin of the Species despite criticism and strong opposition to the ideas he presented. Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, but it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, led to a nationwide ban on DDT for agricultural uses, and inspired an environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. During the Vietnam War, Walter Cronkite and Earnest Leiser travelled to Vietnam to cover the aftermath of the Tet Offensive. Upon return Cronkite published an editorial report critical of the war saying in part: “We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds.” Several weeks later President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

Albert Einstein had the courage to imagine a very different structure to the universe when he developed, described, and published his special theory of relativity and his general theory of relativity.

While we may never rise to these levels of intellectual courage, we often have the opportunity to ask questions that may be provocative, or explore topics that traditions or ideologies consider to be out of bounds.[93] We can decide to face inconvenient truths and probe taboos. Everyday acts of courage may be speaking one’s mind, continuing one’s research, publishing one’s ideas, thinking carefully, and refusing to suppress data and arguments.[94]

Courage is not recklessness; sometimes caution is the prudent choice. “Intellectual caution is wise fearing in cognitive matters.”[95] “…caution is the disposition to fear the right things, at the right times, for the right reasons, and in the right degree.”[96]

Intellectual courage is wisely balanced by intellectual caution.

We exercise intellectual caution whenever we are careful in our work. When we are diligent in rechecking our work, consulting additional references, regarding rumors with skepticism, engaging in critical thinking, and asking others to check our work we are exercising the care that caution demands.

Cautious investigators are careful to check their preliminary findings to avoid advancing falsehoods. In 2011 an experiment mistakenly observed neutrinos appearing to travel faster than light. Even before the mistake was discovered, the result was considered anomalous because speeds higher than that of light in a vacuum are generally thought to violate special relativity, a cornerstone of the modern understanding of physics for over a century. These cautious scientists announced the results of the experiment in September 2011 with the stated intent of promoting further inquiry and debate. Later the team reported two flaws in their equipment set-up that had caused errors far outside their original confidence interval.

Careless researchers can cause significant harm. In 1998 a fraudulent research paper which claimed autism spectrum disorders are linked to certain vaccines was published in the respected medical journal The Lancet. In 2011, this paper was described as "perhaps, the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years" because of the harmful impact this disinformation has had on understanding autism, and by casting unfounded doubts on the safety of vaccines. It is careless to form our beliefs without sufficient evidence.[97] Carelessness is compounded when unfounded beliefs are advanced as if they are fact. This is the origin of conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, quackery, failed ideologies, and cults.

Assignment[edit]

Complete this assignment to better understand the virtues of intellectual courage and caution.

  1. Complete the Wikiversity module on moral Courage.
  2. Recall a time when fear prevented you from pursuing some true belief or acquiring important knowledge. Describe the internal struggle and self-dialogue that allowed your values to prevail over your fears or other difficulties.
  3. Recall a time when insufficient caution allowed you to attain or advance some untrue belief. Describe the internal struggle and self-dialogue that allowed you to subordinate your values in the face of fears or other difficulties.

Humility[edit]

Humility is admitting your limitations. Humility is the realization that although we are each very special, we are nobody special. At its core, humility is openness to learning based on knowledge of your own ignorance.[98] Intellectual humility is deciding that facts are more real and more important than ego. It is the opposite of ego involvement. Because arrogance sustains ignorance, humility is a prerequisite to learning.

The book The Power of Humility identifies these twelve characteristics of humility:[99]

  • Openness—poised to learn more about ourselves, others, and the world we live in. Receptive to understanding what is. Willing to change beliefs, opinions, and attitudes as new information is assimilated. Willingness to ask ‘what can I learn here?’
  • An attitude of “I don’t know”—if you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything. Suspend judgment while you continue to learn.
  • Curiosity—wanting to discover what is not known. Exploring more deeply, wanting to learn more.
  • Innocence—we never see what does not exist and we always see what does. We are free of our (non-existent) egos.
  • A childlike nature—a combination of enthusiasm, openness, innocence, and curiosity,
  • Spontaneity—living authentically in this moment.
  • Spirituality—connecting with all that is beyond ourselves,
  • Tolerance—respecting the beliefs, customs, and practices of ourselves and others. Asking ‘what can I learn from you?’
  • Patience—tolerant of delay, annoyance, tedium, or other hardship without complaint.
  • Integrity—wholeness; integrating virtue throughout our character. Integrating our actions and our character. Living as our authentic selves.
  • Detachment—separating from distractions that compromise our own integrity, and
  • Letting go—dismissing our ego involvement. Knowing that we cannot fix anyone else. Detaching from all that we cannot change.

Intellectual humility requires motivations toward true belief which exceed any motivations toward social status.

Baehr notes “To the extent that an intellectually humble person can do something to improve or rectify her intellectual limitations, weaknesses, or mistakes, she’ll be inclined to do so; but to the extent that these things are fixed or unavoidable, she’ll simply do her best to come to terms with or accept them. She won’t become preoccupied with or be overly self-conscious about them.”[100]

Roberts and Wood characterize intellectual humility as opposite to a number of vices including:[101]

  • arrogance—foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence
  • vanity—excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others
  • conceit—excessively favorable opinion of one's own ability, importance, wit, etc.
  • egoism—selfishness, valuing everything only in reference to one's personal interest
  • hyper-autonomy—failing to acknowledge your dependence on others and accept their help
  • grandiosity—an unrealistic sense of superiority
  • pretentiousness—an exaggerated or undeserved sense of importance
  • snobbishness—assessing human worth based on social status
  • impertinence (presumption)—irrelevant intrusion or rudeness
  • haughtiness—arrogant, vain, snobbish
  • self-righteousness—an attitude of moral superiority
  • domination—power based on the ability to do harm
  • selfish ambition—advancing your interests to the detriment of others
  • self-complacency—approving your abilities and accomplishments without due criticism.

They then focus on the contrast of intellectual humility with the vices of vanity and arrogance.

It is difficult to identify well-known exemplars of intellectual humility, perhaps because such people are actually humble. Incidents where Abraham Lincoln acted humbly have been cited,[102] the humility of Socrates has been debated,[103] and the life of Nobel Prize winning Geneticist Barbara McClintock has been mentioned as an example. The virtue is caricatured by the unassuming police detective Columbo who wore disheveled clothing and was constantly underestimated by his suspects as he shrewdly gathered the information needed to solve each case.

Assignment[edit]

Part 1:

  1. Recall an occasion when your vanity or arrogance prevented you from seeking true beliefs.
  2. What caused your motivations toward ego preservation to exceed your motivations toward true belief in that occasion?

Part 2:

  1. Watch Megan Phelps-Roper in this TED talk describe how she grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church and explain why she left.
  2. What role did intellectual humility play in transforming her beliefs?

Autonomy[edit]

Before each US Air Force flight takes off, one of the pilots is assigned the role of “Aircraft Commander”. When critical decisions need to be made quickly to ensure the safety of the crew and completion of the mission, the Aircraft Commander asks for advice from each crew member and other informative professionals as time permits, relies on her own training and experience, and then makes the decision. The process is inclusive because each crew member has an opportunity to contribute ideas, opinions, and suggestions, however because the final decision is made by the Aircraft Commander, the commander acts autonomously.

In a similar way the intellectually autonomous person works as her own “Belief Commander”. She seeks knowledge, ideas, advice, and opinions from many sources, integrates this with her own experience, and then decides for herself what to believe.

Intellectual autonomy requires that motivations toward true belief exceed any motivations toward affiliations.

Rely on your Theory of Knowledge[edit]

Each of us uses some theory of knowledge to assess the cacophony of raw stimulus we are constantly exposed to and decide what it is we believe.

The intellectually autonomous person relies on her well-developed theory of knowledge as her approach to deciding what she believes. Our world is full of various stimuli that contend for our attention and masquerade as the truth. Unfortunately much of the information we are exposed to is unreliable and misleading. The diagram on the right illustrates our need to filter the raw stimuli we are exposed to in the world to arrive at our own beliefs. Our theory of knowledge is the process we use to analyze and integrate raw information sources into our beliefs about what is true, what is false, what we are unsure of, and what we are unaware of.

Your theory of knowledge is the set of rules you follow to decide what to believe. Since you have chosen your beliefs, you must have some theory of knowledge in some form, however it is unlikely you have given it much thought, written it down, tested it, refined it, or applied it conscientiously to evaluating your own beliefs. A well-developed theory of knowledge allows intellectually autonomous people to think independently, after integrating information gathered from many diverse sources. Intellectual autonomy is exemplified in the student or researcher who is able to work on her own, where working on her own involves a wise dependence, a willingness and ability to tap the intelligence and knowledge of others as needed; but it also means an intelligent ability to stand one’s own ground against bullying, as well as gentler forms of pressure to conform.”[104]

Interdependence[edit]

Intellectual autonomy also involves knowing when to call on help.[105]

Intellectual autonomy is not independence. Instead it is a thoughtful interdependence. It requires establishing good working relationships with trusted colleagues who you can share ideas with and learn from. It requires your genuine consideration of alternative points of view provided by people from other disciplines and with other interests, experiences, and insights. It also requires listening carefully to critics and detractors so you can decide if they have a deeper understanding of the issue or new sources of information that can provide you with new insights.

Nicolaus Copernicus exercised intellectual autonomy as he developed and described a heliocentric—sun centered—model for the universe. The publication of Copernicus' model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) in 1543 was a major event in the history of science, making an important contribution to the Scientific Revolution.

At that time, the Ptolemaic system, standardized geocentrism and allowed this earth-centered model of the universe to dominate thinking until at least the 17th century. Copernicus needed to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of this Ptolemaic system and then think independently to imagine, explain, and defend his heliocentric model. He delayed in publishing his views not wishing—as he confessed—to risk the scorn "to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses." Ultimately Copernicus trusted his own analysis and evidence, acted autonomously, and published his model.

Assignment[edit]

Part 1:

  1. Complete the Wikiversity course on Knowing How You Know.
  2. Combine deep understanding with your theory of knowledge to make autonomous decisions on what to believe.

Part 2:

  1. If you notice yourself drifting from firmness toward rigidity, examine any lingering attachments to friends or acquaintances with unfounded opinions and beliefs or a lapse toward the comfort of traditional thinking causing this rigidity.
  2. If you notice yourself drifting from firmness toward flaccidly, examine any lack of understanding that may be causing this vacillation.

Perseverance[edit]

Several exemplars of perseverance have greatly advanced our knowledge.

In 1902 Marie Curie refined a ton of pitchblende to obtain one-tenth of a gram of radium chloride. She persevered in her work and in 1910 isolated pure radium metal. She discovered two new chemical elements and was awarded two Nobel prizes for pioneering radiation research.

Upon returning to his lab on September 3, 1928 Alexander Fleming noticed that one bacterial culture was contaminated with a fungus, and that the colonies of staphylococci immediately surrounding the fungus had been destroyed, whereas other staphylococci colonies farther away were normal. He famously remarked "That's funny", persevered in investigating this anomaly further, and went on to discover penicillin. Penicillin became a widely used antibiotic and Fleming was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work.

While wondering how a Gecko sticks to the ceiling, Jeffery Karp persevered to solve this mystery, study the stickiness of slugs, and develop glue that seals tiny holes in the heart.[106]

The virtue of intellectual perseverance is a combination of diligence, care, thoroughness, attentiveness, tenacity, and intellectual sobriety in pursuit of true beliefs. Intellectual persistence requires not only stamina, but attentiveness, a special care in looking and listening. Attentiveness combines three ingredients: being present, listening, and sustained attention to important details.[107]

We persevere when motivations to solve a particular mystery exceed any motivations toward idleness or distraction.

Highlighting a distinction between puzzles and mysteries helps us to better understand the virtue of perseverance. Puzzles have definite answers, however mysteries are more complex.[108] Puzzles ask questions about who, what, where, or how many. Mysteries keep asking why or how until all the relevant observations are coherently explained. Each new answer often reveals a deeper mystery and motivates the next question. Intellectual perseverance is a motivation to solve important mysteries.

Assignment[edit]

  1. Recall an occasion when you stopped looking or failed to dig deeper and settled for an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of some mystery.
  2. What prevented you from persevering on that occasion?

Generosity[edit]

Medical researcher Jonas Salk discovered and developed one of the first successful polio vaccines. It is difficult to overstate the benefits of his work. When news of the vaccine's success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a "miracle worker" and the day almost became a national holiday. Around the world, an immediate rush to vaccinate began, using Salk's vaccine.

Jonas Salk was generous. When broadcast journalist Edward Murrow asked him, "Who owns this patent?” Salk replied, "Well, the people I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" The vaccine is estimated to be worth $7 billion had it been patented. We are intellectually generous when motivations to share what we have learned—whether material goods, knowledge, time or energy—exceed any selfish motivations.

There are a variety of claims authors and artists can make to the intellectual property they create. Authors often use a copyright to secure the creator of original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. A relatively recent and generous alternative to copyright is the Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created. This is one example of open collaboration where participates share products they create. Wikiversity is an example of an open collaboration. The Public Library of Science is one of many open-access publishers.

Intellectual generosity moves us toward true beliefs in several ways. Sharing general knowledge widely helps people become factually informed. Sharing research results quickly allows more people to move forward based on these findings so that they, in turn, might build on this knowledge and share their own findings. Generously sharing credit for work done by colleagues encourages teamwork and a collegiate environment for learning, discovery explorations, and researching.

Assignment[edit]

  1. Recall an occasion when you failed to give credit to someone who assisted you in gaining a deeper understanding of something.
  2. Recall an occasion when you failed to share some important knowledge with others who could have benefitted from that sharing.
  3. What motivated your lack of generosity in these instances?

Insightfulness[edit]

A 16th century woodcut of Archimedes' eureka moment

Several exemplars illustrate the virtue of insightfulness.

Archimedes famously proclaimed “Eureka” when while taking a bath, he noticed that the level of the water in the tub rose as he got in, and realized that this effect could be used to determine the volume of the king’s crown he was asked to assay.

In 1666 Isaac Newton was reflecting on the motions of the planets when he saw an apple fall from a tree and the notion of gravitation came into his mind. He asked himself “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground?” and quickly realized the same force that pulled the apple toward the center of the earth also kept the moon in orbit around the earth, and the planets in orbit around the sun. Newton’s insight soon developed into his law of universal gravitation.

Insight is the understanding of a specific cause and effect within a specific context. A sudden insight might be described as an epiphany, ‘Aha!’ moment, or a eureka moment.

Insight generally provides a new understanding that provides greater explanatory power.

Insightfulness is the motivation to continue exploring, studying, reflecting on, and understanding some topic until a deeper understanding with greater explanatory power becomes apparent.

Insight into people, problems, and theories requires originality, creativity, inventiveness, and discernment. The skills of a detective to propose coherent explanations of the facts and an aptitude for inductive reasoning are useful.

Creative, off-beat, and inventive explanations often turn out to be wrong, however creativity and inventiveness are the adventuresome members of the truth-seeking virtues. “They operate on the borders of knowledge and lead to the discovery of new truths for the human race.”[109] Creativity is the adventurer of the intellectual virtues.

Assignment[edit]

  1. Recall some occasion when you enjoyed some flash of insight that helped you solve a problem, illuminate a mystery, or provided some new and useful point of view.
  2. What prepared you to attain that insight? Was it working long and hard on the problem, letting go of the problem, engaging in some creative endeavor, or something else that allowed you to see a new solutions to a difficult problem?

Practical Wisdom[edit]

Aristotle defined the virtue of phronesis, or practical wisdom as:

“a truth-attaining intellectual quality concerned with doing and with the things that are good for human beings.”[110]

Virtues often come into conflict. The moral virtues of justice and mercy must both be considered when a judge sentences a criminal. Similarly, the intellectual virtues of humility, autonomy, and courage must all be considered when deciding to advance a bold new theory or defend an inconvenient truth.

Linda Zagzebski argues that “we ought to consider the virtue of phronesis, or practical wisdom, as a higher-order virtue that governs the entire range of moral and intellectual virtues.”[111] She goes on to say: “A justified belief, all things considered, is what a person with phronesis might believe in like circumstances.” [112]

Roberts and Wood agree when they state “Practical wisdom, too, is involved in every virtue, as constituting the good judgement without which no human virtue could be exemplified in action, emotion, or judgement.”[113]

Roberts and Wood continue to describe practical wisdom as the virtue of integrating each of the individual intellectual virtues “Intellectual practical wisdom is in a sense the whole of intellectual virtue—not a specialized part, like courage.”[114] “… we have argued that intellectual practical wisdom is the power of good perception and judgment that an agent needs to exemplify the particular intellectual virtues in the contexts of intellectual practices.”[115]

Practical wisdom is the motivation to apply each of the intellectual virtues in a well balanced approach to seeking true beliefs.

Assignment[edit]

  1. Consider previously cited examples of discovery, including Microbe hunters, investigative journalists, documentary film makers, explorers, medical pioneers, Rachel Carson, Walter Cronkite, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Alexander Fleming, Jonas Salk, and Albert Einstein.
  2. Choose one example to consider for this assignment.
  3. How might a concern for humility conflict with autonomy and a resolve toward courage in the example you have chosen to study? How does each pioneer resolve that conflict?

Skills[edit]

The intellectual virtues described in the previous section are applied through a variety of techniques, methods, and practices we call skills. Skills are neutral in their intent. Skills can be exercised to advance some virtue, or to advance some vice. For example, skills such as keen observation or explanatory skills can be used to seek true beliefs, to bolster arguments in defense of a failed ideology, or to defend a despicable criminal.

The list of skills that are useful in seeking true beliefs is extensive. Important skills are listed below and only briefly described. The list is incomplete because there are an unlimited number of useful skills. Please develop these skills and apply them carefully as you seek true beliefs.[116]

Acquiring Information[edit]

What information can be discovered and collected?

  • Exploration—searching for information sources. This may be as accessible as an Internet search, as effective as a library visit, as personal as a conversation or interview, or as adventuresome as travel to far away and exotic places.
  • Observational skills direct and focus attention to acquire information from primary sources.
  • Listening helps us to explore, observe, and learn from our environment by paying careful attention to sounds, including human speech.
  • Interviewing to gather information from other people.
  • Reading and other forms of literacy are basic skills for learning from written information.
  • Mechanical skills and techniques required to operate tools or equipment such as a microscope, telescope or other equipment such as laboratory equipment, office equipment, computer equipment or other devices required for the tasks you are performing.
  • Research skills—A wide variety of skills are used to increase our stock of knowledge. Research is used to confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field.

Assessing Information[edit]

How accurately does each piece of information represent reality? How is it relevant? What is the context? What is the importance of each clue?

Analyzing Information[edit]

How does each piece of information fit together with all that is known?

  • Logic skills—forming, understanding, and analyzing valid arguments requires several skills, including: understanding deductive logic, recognizing fallacies, identifying counter examples, and critical thinking.
  • Numeracy—the ability to reason and apply numerical concepts requires several related skills, including: counting, arithmetic, computation skills, measurement skills, geometry, graphing, probability, and statistics.
  • System thinking skills consider the interactions of many interrelated elements to analyze the resulting behavior.
  • Adopting a global perspective—understand the full extent of effects and the many causes of problems, examine interconnections, and design solutions considering a broad perspective.
  • Critical Thinking—objectively analyzing information to form a judgement.

Synthesizing Information[edit]

How does all that is known fit together into a consistent and coherent paradigm? What are the consistent and coherent interconnections? How can this be understood in the context of all we know?

Expressing Ideas[edit]

How can others best understand our ideas?

Assignment[edit]

  1. Develop the skills you need to seek true beliefs.
  2. Notice as you apply your skills if you are using them toward true beliefs, or for some other purpose.

Faculties[edit]

Humans have many natural abilities—such as eyesight, the acuity of other senses, and memory—that we call faculties. These various faculties are powers that are natural to us as human beings, and although they are not acquired through practice,[117] it is possible to develop them and take steps to prevent them from deteriorating. We are equipped with faculties for knowing things, and we pursue knowledge by various means using these faculties.[118]

Various researchers[119] have identified several faculties, including:

  • The senses, including eyesight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell that inform our perceptions.
  • Sensory modalities, including temperature sensitivity, kinesthetic sense (proprioception), pain, balance, vibration, and various internal stimuli such as the sense of hunger.
  • Memory—the ability to preserve, retain, and subsequently recall knowledge, information, or experience.
  • Thinking—allows humans to make sense of the things in the world.
  • Imagination—the creative ability to form images, ideas, and sensations in the mind without any immediate input of the senses
  • Consciousness—being aware of an external object or something within oneself.
  • Introspection—the ability to know directly that one exists, who one is, and some of one’s own state of mind
  • Inference—the ability to logically derive one thought from another
  • Induction—the ability to generalize from specific cases
  • Language readiness—the ability to learn and understand languages
  • Coherence seeking—the disposition to demand consistency and mutual support among one’s beliefs.

These faculties form the foundation for developing the various skills identified in the previous section. For example, we rely on the faculty of sight to develop the skills of observation and reading. We then rely on various intellectual virtues to apply our skills toward seeking true beliefs.

Some faculties, such as the ability to recognize patterns, are often very helpful but can also cause illusions and may not be oriented toward attaining true beliefs.

In addition to the faculties listed here, humans have several frailties, such as confirmation bias, prejudice, wishful thinking, selfishness, fear, vanity, and laziness. These are the origins of the various vices identified in an earlier section.

The intellectual virtues are acts of will that engage and amplify our faculties while overcoming—or at least diminishing—our frailties, in pursuit of true beliefs.

Assignment[edit]

  1. Choose one faculty from the above list to focus on for this assignment.
  2. Identify various skills that rely on that faculty that you have developed.
  3. Choose one frailty to study for this assignment.
  4. How do you use your intellectual virtues to motivate use of your skills to overcome frailty and seek true belief?

Conclusions[edit]

Reality is vast and nearly unlimited. True beliefs correspond to reality. Untrue beliefs are inconsistent with reality, conflict with reality, and are not based in reality. True beliefs are the portion of reality we are able to experience, learn about, and understand. Intellectual virtues, the primary topic of this course, are motivations toward true beliefs.

Because we choose our beliefs we are personally responsible for the beliefs we hold. We are morally responsible for our beliefs and we have a moral obligation to choose true beliefs.

A virtue is a deep and lasting acquired excellence that has been deliberately developed over time. Virtues have intrinsic value, they are motivations toward an identifiable end, and are oriented toward success.

Intellectual virtues work to overcome various vices as we pursue true beliefs.

Virtues are willful efforts to overcome naturally occurring frailties we call vices. The intellectual virtues are acts of will that engage and amplify our skills and faculties while overcoming—or at least diminishing—our frailties in pursuit of true beliefs.

Assimilate these key lessons into your daily life:

  • Attaining true beliefs is as much a matter of will as it is of skill.
  • Maintain your motivation toward true beliefs as your primary epistemological motive—your way of knowing.
  • Important knowledge is significant, worthy, and relevant. Seek to understand important knowledge.
  • Develop and exercise your intellectual virtues of: the love of knowledge, firmness, courage and caution, humility, autonomy, perseverance, generosity, insightfulness, and practical wisdom.
  • Develop and exercise your skills in service to your intellectual virtues.
  • Reality is our common ground. Seek true beliefs to better understand our common ground.

Assignment[edit]

Exercise your intellectual virtues as follows:

  1. Seek true beliefs.
  2. Dismiss untrue beliefs.
  3. Dispel unfounded beliefs.
  4. Advance no falsehoods. Be impeccable with your word. As you communicate, represent only true beliefs as being true.
  5. Practice dialogue.
  6. Embrace reality as our common ground.

Further Reading[edit]

Students who are interested in learning more about the intellectual virtues may wish to read these books:

I have not yet read the following books, but they seem interesting and relevant. They are listed here to invite further research.

  • [Evaluate: Epistemic Responsibility, by Loraine Code]
  • [Evaluate: Epistemic Virtue and Doxastic Responsibility, by James Montmarquet
  • [Evaluate: The Concept of the Mind, by Gilbert Ryle ]
  • [Evaluate: Rational Belief: Structure, Grounds, and Intellectual Virtue, by Robert Audi ]
  • [Evaluate: Intellectual Character: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How Get It, by Ron Ritchhart ]
  • [Evaluate: Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, by Maria Konnikova ]
  • [Evaluate: Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography, by Errol Morris ]
  • [Evaluate: The Master and His Emissary, by Iain McGilchrist ]
  • [Evaluate: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, by Kurt Andersen ]
  • [Evaluate: Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen ]
  • [Evaluate: Overload: Finding the Truth in Today's Deluge of News, by Bob Schieffer ]
  • [Evaluate: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, by Kurt Andersen ]

References[edit]

Note that many references are to electronic versions of the books cited. The traditional concept of page numbers is not relevant to an electric book. Therefore, this course uses the convention of @ nnn of mmm to denote the citation is located at information position nnn when viewing the electronic book at a font size that results in a total of mmm information locations.

  1. The accusation “You can’t handle the truth!” was made famous by the 1992 film A Few Good Men. See the Wikiquote entry for A Few Good Men.
  2. Baehr, Jason (2015). Cultivating Good Minds: A Philosophical & Practical Guide to Educating for Intellectual Virtues. 
  3. See: Turri, John, Alfano, Mark and Greco, John, "Virtue Epistemology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),
  4. Baehr, Jason (2015). Cultivating Good Minds: A Philosophical & Practical Guide to Educating for Intellectual Virtues.  Page 50
  5. Schwitzgebel, Eric, "Belief", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  6. See, for example: Shepard’s Tables Illusion, Psychology Concepts
  7. Chignell, Andrew, "The Ethics of Belief", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  8. Chignell, Andrew, "The Ethics of Belief", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) Attributed to Van Inwagen, Peter, 1996, in J. Jordan and D. Howard-Snyder (eds.), Faith, freedom and rationality, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 137–153
  9. Chignell, Andrew, "The Ethics of Belief", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  10. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus ((September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 681 of 1227
  11. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus ((September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 215 of 1227, Section 4.2
  12. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 218 of 1329
  13. See: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/metaphysics.1.i.html
  14. For example: Locke says: “… 'tis the Knowledge of Things that is only to be priz'd; 'tis this alone gives a Value to our Reasonings, and Preference to one Man's Knowledge over another's, that is of Things as they really are, and of Dreams and Fancies." from Book IV, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke.
  15. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 673 of 1227
  16. Chignell, Andrew, "The Ethics of Belief", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  17. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 917 of 1227 and also Greco, John and Turri, John, "Virtue Epistemology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  18. Fantl, Jeremy, "Knowledge How", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
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  26. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 354 of 1227
  27. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 347 of 1227
  28. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 214 of 1329
  29. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 459 of 1227
  30. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  beginning @ 453 of 1227
  31. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 914 of 1227
  32. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 551 of 1227
  33. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 555 of 1227
  34. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 395 of 1227
  35. Epistemic Responsibility, by Loraine Code
  36. See The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Virtue Epistemology, Virtue Responsibilism, Key Figures.
  37. See: Virtue Epistemology, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  38. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 387 of 1227
  39. Baehr, Jason (2015). Cultivating Good Minds: A Philosophical & Practical Guide to Educating for Intellectual Virtues.  chapter 4
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  42. The Wikiversity course Facing Facts explores the coherence of reality and the unity of knowledge in more depth.
  43. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carolo Rovelli, “The Architecture of the Cosmos”
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  46. Roberts and Wood use the phrase “epistemic goods” to refer to a deep understanding of or acquaintance with important knowledge.
  47. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 546 of 1329
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  55. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
  56. “Bill and I were in a race the other day. I came in second, but Bill came in next to last.” The statement is literally true; however because there were only two people in the race it is very misleading. It is clearer and more honest to state Bill came in first and I came in last.
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  73. As reported in the Wikiquote entry on John Maynard Keynes.
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  75. Quote Investigator, If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything.
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  86. Baehr, Jason (2015). Cultivating Good Minds: A Philosophical & Practical Guide to Educating for Intellectual Virtues.  Page 128
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  91. See discussion at Baehr, Jason (2015). Cultivating Good Minds: A Philosophical & Practical Guide to Educating for Intellectual Virtues.  Page 133
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  102. Lincoln As A Model of Humility, Raven Foundation, January 11, 2010
  103. Socratic Humility, Philosophy Now
  104. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 903 of 1329
  105. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 923 of 1329
  106. Innovation Hub, What Nature can Teach Science, July 6, 2017
  107. Baehr, Jason (2015). Cultivating Good Minds: A Philosophical & Practical Guide to Educating for Intellectual Virtues.  Page 95
  108. Leslie, Ian (December 1, 2015). Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It. Basic Books. pp. 256. ISBN 978-0465097623.  @ 154 of 542
  109. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 624 of 1227
  110. Aristotle Nichomachean ethics. Book six, with essays, notes, and translation
  111. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 745 of 1227
  112. Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus (September 13, 1996). Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0521578264.  @ 796 of 1227
  113. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 1074 of 1329
  114. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 1091 of 1329
  115. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 1142 of 1329
  116. It will be better when Wikiversity includes excellent courses to help students develop each of these skills. I encourage subsequent editors to develop such courses and link them here.
  117. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 303 of 1329
  118. Roberts, Robert C.; Wood, W. Jay (2007). Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 352. ISBN 978-0199575701.  @ 311 of 1329
  119. See, for example Roberts and Wood @ 307 of 1329, Zagzebski @ 55 of 1227, the Wikipedia article on the Mind, and the work of Thomas Reid.