I Know You Are, But What am I? Anti-Individualism in the Development of Intellectual Humility and Wu-Wei (2016). (with M. Alfano), Logos & Episteme VII(4): 435-459.
Virtues are acquirable, so if intellectual humility is a virtue, it’s acquirable. But there is something deeply problematic—perhaps even paradoxical—about aiming to be intellectually humble. Drawing on Edward Slingerland’s analysis of the paradoxical virtue of wu-wei
in Trying Not To Try
(New York: Crown, 2014), we argue for an anti-individualistic conception of the trait, concluding that one’s intellectual humility depends upon the intellectual humility of others. Slingerland defines wu-we
i as the “dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person who is optimally active and effective” (Trying Not to Try
, 7). Someone who embodies wu-wei
inspires implicit trust, so it is beneficial to appear wu-wei
. This has led to an arms race between faking wu-wei
on the one hand and detecting fakery on the other. Likewise, there are many benefits to being (or seeming to be) intellectually humble. But someone who makes conscious, strategic efforts to appear intellectually humble is ipso facto
not intellectually humble. Following Slingerland’s lead, we argue that there are several strategies one might pursue to acquire genuine intellectual humility, and all of these involve commitment to shared social or epistemic values, combined with receptivity to feedback from others, who must in turn have and manifest relevant intellectual virtues. In other words, other people and shared values are partial bearers of a given individual’s intellectual humility. If this is on the right track, then acquiring intellectual humility demands epistemic anti-individualism.
Character, Caricature, and Gossip (2016). The Monist 99 (2)
Gossip is rarely praised. There seems little virtuous about talking behind someone’s back. Whether there is anything virtuous about gossip, however, depends on the kind of gossip. Some gossip is idle, but some evaluative gossip promulgates and enforces norms. When properly motivated, such gossip effects positive change in society and counts as gossiping well. The virtue of gossiping well even includes some kinds of false gossip, namely the sort that exaggerates a pre-existing trait, thereby creating a caricature of a person’s character in order to establish a moral exemplar (or anti-exemplar).
Virtues and Psychology: Do We Have Virtues and How Can We Know? (2016). In Alejo José G. Sison (ed.), Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management. Springer.
Attribution of virtues and vices is commonplace. Saying someone has a virtue helps us explain her behavior and form expectations about how she will behave in the future. Built on the universality of these attributions, virtue ethics has had a long tradition in philosophy, with Aristotle standing at the pinnacle, as well as a modern resurgence. Recently, however, empirical evidence has cast doubt on the existence of virtues and vices. People’s behavior, it seems, is governed more by morally irrelevant situational factors than by robust, internal dispositions like virtues. Yet a new line of argument is beginning to emerge that virtue ethics is still relevant even if virtues do not exist.
Human Values and The Value of Humanities in Interdisciplinary Research (2016). (Lead author, with M. Christen, C. Gonnerman, S. E. Vasko, & M. O’Rourke), Cogent Arts & Humanities 3(1): 1-16.
Research integrating the perspectives of different disciplines, or interdisciplinary research, has become increasingly common in academia and is considered important for its ability to address complex questions and problems. This mode of research aims to leverage differences among disciplines in generating a more complex understanding of the research landscape. To interact successfully with other disciplines, researchers must appreciate their differences, and this requires recognizing how the research landscape looks from the perspective of other disciplines. One central aspect of these disciplinary perspectives involves values, and more specifically, the roles that values do, may, and should play in research practice. It is reasonable to think that disciplines differ in part because of the different views that their practitioners have on these roles. This paper represents a step in the direction of evaluating this thought. Operating at the level of academic branches, which comprise relevantly similar disciplines (e.g., social and behavioral sciences), this paper uses quantitative techniques to investigate whether academic branches differ in terms views on the impact of values on research. Somewhat surprisingly, we find very little relation between differences in these views and differences in academic branch. We discuss these findings from a philosophical perspective to conclude the paper.
Building Interdisciplinary Research Models through Interactive Education (2015). Clinical and Translational Science
. Critical interdisciplinary research skills include effective communication with diverse disciplines and cultivating collaborative relationships. Acquiring these skills during graduate education may foster future interdisciplinary research quality and productivity.
. The project aim was to develop and evaluate an interactive Toolbox workshop approach within an inter-professional graduate level course to enhance student learning and skill in interdisciplinary research. We sought to examine the student experience of integrating the Toolbox workshop in modular format over the duration of a 14 week course.
. The Toolbox Health Sciences Instrument includes six modules that were introduced in a 110-minute dialogue session during the first class and then integrated into the course in a series of six individual workshops in three phases over the course of the semester.
. Seventeen students participated; the majority were nursing students. Three measures were used to assess project outcomes: pre-post intervention Toolbox survey, competency selfassessment and a post-course survey. All measures indicated the objectives were met by a change in survey responses, improved competencies and favorable experience of the Toolbox modular intervention.
. Our experience indicates that incorporating this Toolbox modular approach into research curricula can enhance individual level scientific capacity, future interdisciplinary research project success, and ultimately impact on practice and policy.
Bragging. (2015). Thought: A Journal of Philosophy. (with M. Alfano)
This paper offers an intention-based account of the speech act of bragging (or boasting). Bragging is a kind of assertion, where the speaker also intends for the addressee to be impressed. Finally, we suggest instead a three-way taxonomy of brags: (a) brazen brags, where the speaker intends the addressee to recognize that she’s trying to impress, (b) humblebrags, where the speaker intends the addressee to fail to recognize that she’s trying to impress, and (c) indifferent brags, where the speaker doesn’t intend one way or the other.
The Semantic Space of Intellectual Humility. (2015). Proceedings of the European Conference on Social Intelligence. (with M. Christen & M. Alfano)
Intellectual humility is an interesting but underexplored dis- position. The claim “I am (intellectually) humble” seems paradoxical in that someone who has the disposition in question would not typically volunteer it. There is an explanatory gap between the meaning of the sentence and the meaning the speaker expresses by uttering it. We therefore suggest analyzing intellectual humility semantically, using a psycholexical approach that focuses on both synonyms and antonyms of ‘intellectual humility’. We present a thesaurus-based method to map the semantic space of intellectual humility as a heuristic to support philosophical and psychological analysis of this disposition. We find three semantic clusters that compose intellectual humility: the sensible self, the discreet self, and the inquisitive self; likewise, we find three clusters that compose its contraries: the overrated self, the underrated other, and the underrated self.
Reversing the Side-Effect Effect: The Power of Norm Salience. (2014). Philosophical Studies. (lead author, with P. Stey & M. Alfano)
In the last decade, experimental philosophers have documented systematic asymmetries in the attributions of mental attitudes to agents who produce different types of side effects. We argue that that this effect is driven not simply by norm-violation but by salient norm-violation. As evidence for this hypothesis, we present two new studies in which two conflicting norms are present, and one or both of them is raised to salience. Expanding one’s view to these additional cases presents, we argue, a fuller conception of the side-effect effect, which can be reversed by reversing which norm is salient.
Virtue and Vice Attributions in the Business Context: An Experimental Investigation. (2013). The Journal of Business Ethics, 113 (4), 649-661. Lead author, with Paul Stey and Mark Alfano
Recent findings in experimental philosophy have revealed that people attribute intentionality, belief, desire, knowledge, and blame asymmetrically to side effects depending on whether the agent who produces the side-effect violates or adheres to a norm. Although the original (and still common) test for this effect involved a chairman helping or harming the environment, hardly any of these findings have been applied to business ethics. We review what little exploration of the implications for business ethics has been done. Then, we present new experimental results that expand the attribution asymmetry to virtue and vice. We also examine whether it matters to people that an effect was produced as a primary or side effect, as well as how consumer habits might be affected by this phenomenon. These results lead to the conclusion that it appears to be in a businessperson’s self-interest to be virtuous.
The Centrality of Belief and Reflection in Knobe-Cases: A Unified Account of the Data. (2012). The Monist 95 (2), 264-289. Co-authored with Mark Alfano and James Beebe
Recent work in experimental philosophy has shown that people are more likely to attribute intentionality, knowledge, and other psychological properties to someone who causes a bad side effect than to someone who causes a good one. We argue that all of these asymmetries can be explained in terms of a single underlying asymmetry involving belief attribution because the belief that one’s action would result in a certain side effect is a necessary component of each of the psychological attitudes in question. We argue further that this belief-attribution asymmetry is rational because it mirrors a belief-formation asymmetry, and that the belief-formation asymmetry is also rational because it is more useful to form some beliefs than others.
The Philosopher-King and Democracy: A Platonic Political Doctrine. (2002). The Pulse, 1, 21–35.
In Progress or Under Review
Gossip as a Burdened Virtue (with M. Alfano) – Invited Paper, Under Review: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Gossip is often serious business, not idle chitchat. Gossip allows those oppressed to privately name their oppressors as a warning to others. Of course, gossip can be in error. The speaker may be lying or merely have lacked sufficient evidence. Bias can also make those who hear the gossip more or less likely to believe the gossip. By examining the social functions of gossip and considering the differences in power dynamics in which gossip can occur, we contend that gossip may be not only permissible but virtuous, both as the only reasonable recourse available and as a means of resistance against oppression.
State of the Science: Disciplinary Diversity in Teams, Integrative Approaches from Unidisciplinarity to Transdisciplinarity (with M. O’Rourke. S. E. Vasko, S. Crowley, & B. Larson) – Invited Paper: Advancing Social and Behavioral Health Research through Cross-disciplinary Team Science: Principles for Success. Kara Hall, Robert Croyle, & Amanda Vogel (eds.). Springer.
“This chapter will provide a primer on key concepts that should be considered when developing a cross-disciplinary social or behavioral research team. These include: considerations for identifying the disciplines and fields to bring to the table; the readiness for integration of potential participating disciplines; the range of possible degrees of integration, from unidisciplinary to transdisciplinary; various approaches to integration, including integration across levels of analysis and integration across concepts, theories, and methodological approaches; and technological readiness for integration of datasets and analytic approaches. The chapter will summarize the current conceptual and theoretical literature in these areas, and discuss how these factors influence both scientific goals and team functioning.
A Cross-Cultural Psycholexical Analysis of Intellectual Humility (with M. Christen & M. Alfano) – Invited Paper, Under Review: AI & Society
Constructing and Validating a Scale of Inquisitive Curiosity (with M. Alfano, M. Christen, P. Stey, & K. Iurino) – Invited Paper, Under Review: Perspectives on Curiosity (collected volume, I. Inan, D. Whitcomb, & S. Yigit, eds.)
Ambiguity, Univocality, and Semantic Luck (Lead author, with M. O’Rourke)
A Four-Factor Structure of Reports of Intellectual Humility (with M. Alfano, D. Lapsley, M. Christen, & K. Iurino)
Lying and Cooperation
This paper argues for a new, cooperation-based definition of lying, according to which a speaker lies to an addressee if and only if the speaker say something false to the addressee and is thereby uncooperative with the purpose of their talk exchange. I review four previously recognized definitional problems, showing that the cooperation-based is able to successful handle each. Loose talk is introduced as a new definitional hazard. Loose talk is a statement that is strictly false but close enough for conversational purposes. Existing definitions incorrectly find cases of loose talk to be lies. The cooperation-based definition, on the other hand, can explain why saying “It’s 3:30” when the time is actually 3:29 is not a lie.
Situationist Challenge to Grice’s Cooperative Principle
Grice’s Cooperative Principle states, “Make your conversational contributions such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.” For Grice, speakers not only tend to observe this principle, but are required to do so as a dictate of rationality. It is, he thinks, our disposition to cooperate in this way that allows us to understand each other. Situationism, as articulated by John Doris and Gilbert Harman, has challenged neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics on the existence of character traits like virtues and vices. In this paper, I extend the situationism to Grice’s Cooperative Principle, in part based on psychological studies demonstrating that people’s willingness to cooperate is largely determined by non-relevant situational factors. Thus, it would seem that Grice’s theory of conversation (and implicature) requires speaker to have a robust disposition to cooperate, which it turns out no one has. Unlike neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics, however, the lack of a robust trait of cooperation can be seen as a feature of Grice’s theory, instead of a fault. By realizing that no one always (or almost always) cooperates, we can see how non-cooperative behavior of speakers or audiences causes miscommunication. Grice’s theory is now able to diagnose these cases of miscommunication. Therefore, such cases are not counter-examples to Grice’s theory, as some have argued. We must, however, reconsider Grice’s notion of the Cooperative Principle as a dictate of rationality.
Philosophy of Science as a Hindrance to Scientific Integration (Lead author, with C. Gonnerman & M. O’Rourke)