How should we react to learning about widespread disagreement? Our answer to this big question shapes our fundamental outlook on ourselves, others, and the world, and my project will compare three central answers: dogmatism, skepticism and humility. I hypothesize that humility offers a plausible yet overlooked alternative to dogmatism and skepticism.
Many issues in philosophy, theology, and science are controversial, and we know that others reject our views. If we believe a question has one correct answer, and accept one answer, we must impute error to our disputants: perhaps they missed evidence or have a bias. I call this dogmatism. Seeing others as in error is a natural reaction to disagreement, but it can be uncomfortable. Dogmatism calls us to view disputants as flawed, but it's often implausible to regard them as appreciably different than we are. As a result, we may react to controversy in a different way: by doubting that anyone has given reasonable answers, and regarding truth-seeking with pessimism. This sort of skepticism can undermine investigation.
Humility may help us resist both dogmatic self-assurance and skeptical detachment. It suggests we should often greatly reduce confidence in our controversial views while also being sincerely committed to investigation.
I aim to understand the extent to which humility guards us from the danger of hasty believing and dogmatism while avoiding the pitfalls of skepticism, and to ask whether humility encourages virtues like open-mindedness, wonder, and a sense of mystery when we confront hard questions. My approach offers advice for how to responsibly conduct intellectual life. I'll explain how empirical findings, from psychology and genetics, and facts about information in the digital age can illuminate the deep causes of disagreement and thereby encourage us to adopt humility. I'll produce a scholarly book, edit a collection of new essays, and host a major interdisciplinary conference in New York City.