What is intellectual humility, and can it be reconciled with Bayesian epistemology?
Bayesian epistemology is the dominant tool for modelling agents, used across philosophy and the social sciences. Bayesian agents are usually taken to be paragons of rationality, perfectly basing their beliefs on the evidence, and therefore seem to be models of intellectual humility.
But Bayesian agents are certain of some propositions. For example, Bayesian agents are certain of tautologies, and certain about the relation between evidence and hypothesis. And when Bayesian agents are certain of something, they remain certain in the face of any conflicting evidence that might arrive. And sticking to your beliefs in the light of opposing evidence seems to demonstrate a lack of intellectual humility.
This raises a number of questions: do Bayesian agents really lack intellectual humility? If so, is this is a problem? If it is, should we alter our understanding of ideal agents? If so, are there consequences for the study of rationality? And are there significant consequences for epistemology more generally?
This project will aim to answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, with the core aim of developing a theory of intellectual humility in a Bayesian framework.
The primary activities will be reading and writing, with discussions in structured and unstructured contexts. The project will result in 8 papers in leading journals, a conference and an edited book of new papers on the topic.
The project is needed because work on intellectual humility has not been well integrated with work in epistemology, and especially Bayesian epistemology. The main impact will be that future work on intellectual humility will be embedded in our most successful epistemological framework.