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Peter Graham

Peter Graham

Peter Graham is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Riverside.



Being Informed: The Social Basis of Testimonial Warrant

Intellectual humility is a virtue, a valuable trait of character. Intellectual humility involves neither overestimating nor underestimating your own knowledge. Intellectual humility involves self-knowledge.

Intellectual Humility and the Reliability of Testimony investigates the role intellectual humility plays on the part of speakers when the send testimony, and the role it plays on the part of hearers when they receive testimony. Does a speaker’s intellectual humility contribute to reliable production of testimony? Does a hearers intellectual humility contribute to reliable consumption of testimony? How does intellectual humility contribute to the production and consumption of reliable testimony?

The reliability of testimony is explained, in part, by the internalization of social norms for sincerity and accuracy. We, as human groups, prescribe being informative, and we are informative partly because we prescribe being informative. The reliability of testimony is also explained, in part, by our ability as hearers to reason about the motives and trustworthiness of our interlocutors. Argumentation and coherence-checking evolved, in part, to filter out unreliable testimony. Could the reliability of testimony also be partly explained by the internalization of intellectual virtues such as intellectual humility, and the rejection of its opposites, such as intellectual domination and hyper-autonomy?

Intellectual Humility and the Reliability of Testimony investigates to what extent virtues of character such as intellectual humility are social virtues, in the sense of either being social norms (regularities in behavior in a social group because internalized prescriptions) or simply social standards (prescribed or valued traits but not widely internalized). Research will determine to what extent we, as a group, value the valuable, and to what extent we, as a group, do what is valuable because we prescribe and internalize the valuable.

Determining the extent to which intellectually humility is a social virtue will illuminate to what extent humility contributes to the reliability of testimony. This investigation will also provide insight as to how we might cultivate, both in ourselves and others, humility as well as other intellectual virtues.