Over the last two decades, intellectual humility has become a major topic of research in virtue epistemology and psychology. Yet though virtue-based concepts have also become more common in the historical and philosophical analysis of science, intellectual humility per se has not been prominent in these accounts. Indeed some philosophical analyses have argued that intellectual humility and related concepts such as open-mindedness might be unnecessary or even harmful to epistemic success at the group level. Nonetheless, there is also both a priori and empirical evidence suggesting the opposite, viz., that intellectual humility is essential to excellent scientific practice. This project gathers a multidisciplinary group of scholars to construct the conceptual groundwork for an empirical research program exploring why, how, and under what conditions one might encourage the cultivation of intellectual humility (IH) in scientists.
The project leaders propose gathering thirteen scholars for a series of interdisciplinary sessions and workshops on IH in science. These sessions, held primarily online, will stretch over three years to allow the team to build a robust, cross-disciplinary dialogue. Participants will include experts from science studies, virtue ethics and virtue epistemology, moral and developmental psychology, and science pedagogy. The project will generate at least three grant proposals for empirical research into IH in science, as well as a major report documenting the core findings of the team (including both areas of consensus, ongoing disagreements, and areas for future research). By doing so, the project will lay a robust foundation for long-term research into the role of IH in scientific research and how it might best be cultivated among scientists.