Brian Robinson

Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Category: Moral Pscyhology

Moral Psychology

Teaching Intellectual Humility

[Cross-posted on Open for Debate]

Wooden Path in the WoodsWe have good reason for wanting to teach and instill the virtue of intellectual humility. Those with this virtue are more cooperative, want to learn more, are more forgiving, are more willing to admit mistakes, and even make better leaders. But how do we encourage people to become intellectually humble? Continue reading

CFA: Moral Psychology of Amusement

Call for Abstracts

Abstracts are sought for a collection on the moral psychology of amusement, as part of Rowan and Littlefield International’s current series of volumes on the moral psychology of various emotions (Mark Alfano, series editor). The aim of the volume is to provide interdisciplinary perspectives on amusement, so a wide range of disciplines and methodologies are welcome.

Possible topics include:

  • Consideration of some of the causes or consequences and the moral implications of those causes or consequences,
  • Morally relevant ways that amusement interacts with other emotions,
  • Morally appropriate or inappropriate uses of one’s own amusement
  • Examination of the contexts in which it is morally permissible to induce (or not) amusement in others,
  • A cross-cultural analysis of amusement,
  • Amusement and feminism,
  • Ways in which amusement can subvert or aid our moral reasoning,
  • Amusement as a means of oppression,
  • The dangers of amusement, or
  • An analysis of what about jokes amuses us.

Deadline for Abstracts: May 15, 2018

Full details available here. 

Measuring Intellectual Humility

As a culmination of our intellectual humility grant in 2013, my co-authors (Mark Alfano, Kathryn Iurino, Paul Stey, Markus Christen, Feng Yu, and Danial Lapsley) have just published our new multi-dimensional measure of intellectual humility. Over five studies (N=3,651), two languages, and five years went into producing this paper in PLoS One, where we present our validate tool for measuring the trait of intellectual humility in people. Here’s the abstract:

This paper presents five studies on the development and validation of a scale of intellectual humility.This scale captures cognitive, affective, behavioral, and motivational components of the construct that have been identified by various philosophers in their conceptual analyses of intellectual humility. We find that intellectual humility has four core dimensions: Open-mindedness (versus Arrogance), Intellectual Modesty (versus Vanity), Corrigibility (versus Fragility), and Engagement (versus Boredom). These dimensions display adequate self-informant agreement, and adequate convergent, divergent, and discriminant validity. In particular, Open-mindedness adds predictive power beyond the Big Six for an objective behavioral measure of intellectual humility, and Intellectual Modesty is uniquely related to Narcissism. We find that a similar factor structure emerges in Germanophone participants, giving initial evidence for the model’s cross-cultural generalizability.

Reversing the Side-Effect Effect

Some of you are already familiar with the Side-Effect Effect by now. In a new article forthcoming in Philosophical Studies, Paul Stey, Mark Alfano, and I demonstrate that we can reverse the effect and therefore explain what the effect is as never before possible.

Tony Hayward

Tony Hayward – former CEO of BP (credit: Justin Thomas)

First discovered by Joshua Knobe (and hence sometimes called the Knobe Effect), the effect’s hallmark is an asymmetric attribution of some psychological state or other. In Knobe’s original study, the chairman of the board alternately harms or helps the environment as a side-effect of a new profit-increasing program. Knobe found an asymmetric pattern of attributions of intentionality in the two cases: the folk said he intentionally harmed the environment, but he didn’t intentionally help it. Since this seminal work, a literature on the effect has developed, expanding it in terms of the states asymmetrically attributed (intentionality, desires, beliefs, knowledge, etc.) and the type of norm involved (moral, legal, prudential, aesthetic, descriptive, etc.). As the literature on the effect has expanded, it has become increasingly difficult to precisely characterize the nature of the effect. While it initially looked like people were more willing to say a morally bad side effect was intentional, that interpretation doesn’t hold up since the asymmetry is present in studies involving on non-moral norms. So what is the Side-Effect Effect anyway? How do we describe it? We can already say that the effect refers to the asymmetric attribution rates for various psychological states, but based on what? When are the attribution rates higher or lower? Continue reading

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