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This project has three aims: (i) to advance scholarly understanding of the nature and value of epistemic autonomy (EA) and its relation to intellectual humility (IH), (ii) to create a valid and reliable way to measure the trait of EA, and (iii) to increase public understanding of how EA and IH can help individuals navigate contentious public debates. EA is the intellectual virtue of appropriately relying upon oneself in one's reasoning, judgment, and decision making.
Most philosophical definitions and empirical measures of IH contrast IH only with intellectual arrogance. However, scholars agree that an appreciation of and focus on one's intellectual limitations and weaknesses can be taken too far and can result in insufficient self-trust and an inappropriate underestimation of one's abilities and achievements. We thus contend that IH should be understood as a balance of both limitations-owning and autonomy-owning attitudes and motivations but note that the latter have been largely neglected in the existing literature. Our project will remedy this shortcoming by giving concentrated attention to EA as an important moderating factor that enables the intellectually humble person to avoid the vice of intellectual servility or diffidence.
Project leaders will offer a philosophical analysis of EA, construct a new self-report measure of EA, and engage the public regarding ways that EA and IH can improve private reflection and public debate about controversial topics.
Outputs will be 2 public events (a philosophy conference and a public forum), 5 academic articles (3 in philosophy, 2 in psychology), 14 research presentations, and 3 publications aimed at general audiences.
In addition to advancing scholarly understanding of EA, the project will also lay the groundwork for future efforts to cultivate this epistemic virtue by providing a reliable measurement of its presence in individuals.