The virtue of honesty is almost universally valued, and exemplars like Abraham Lincoln are revered in our society. There is little controversy that honesty is a virtue, that it is important to cultivate, and that it should be part of a good moral education.
Yet surprisingly, many fields have only recently begun devoting attention to honesty. This is especially true of philosophy and psychology, which are central to this proposal. We hope to inspire much further work on this neglected virtue.
The goals of this planning grant are to (i) make initial progress in addressing four Big Questions, and (ii) position our team well to lead three RFP competitions on honesty as part of a subsequent grant proposal for work beginning in 2020. The Big Questions are:
(i) What are the behavioral requirements of being an honest person, or an exceptionally honest person? What are the motivational requirements?
(ii) To what extent are people honest, and how much does this vary by age and culture?
(iii) What factors encourage and discourage honest behavior in people, and what factors encourage exceptionally honest behavior?
(iv) What shapes the development of honesty in children and adults?
To help advance both of our goals, we will engage in the following five activities:
(1) Publish the first book in philosophy on honesty in over fifty years.
(2) Review the psychology literature on seven topics, develop connections with other honesty researchers, and reevaluate our existing data.
(3) Hold weekly reading groups.
(4) Organize a workshop on the current state of honesty research.
(5) Prepare a white paper reviewing research on honesty.
Our anticipated outputs include a book manuscript, 5 articles and 15 presentations, a conference, a white paper, and a proposal to JTF for a larger grant for The Honesty Project. Our hope is that these two grants will help to foster an extensive amount of new research on this important, neglected, but emerging virtue.