Experimental philosophers clean up in grant competition

The Fuller Theological Seminary recently ran a grant competition to which both experimental philosophers and psychologists applied.  The topic of research was “Intellectual Humility,” an understudied intellectual virtue.  Last I checked, there were about 30 finalists, of whom 16 or so were expected to receive funding; sources now indicate that at least four teams that had xphi people on them received funding:

Joshua Alexander received funding to write a book about intellectual humility.

Thomas Nadelhoffer, Jen Wright, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Lawrence Ngo, Jeremy Frimer, and Trisha Folds-Bennett received funding to do empirical work.

Edouard Machery and Steve Stich received funding to study experimental philosophy and intellectual humility.

Mark Alfano, Daniel Lapsley, Paul Stey, Brian Robinson, and Markus Christen received funding to empirically investigate intellectual humility as an “elusive” virtue.

(Apologies for lack of links; I found out about the sucesses through the facebook, and so wasn’t sure about website for some of the people involved.)

I don’t yet know much by way of details of the other teams’ projects, but I can say a bit about my own: we are concerned that there is something like a paradox of self-reference when it comes to virtues like modesty and humility (and their intellectual counterparts).  Someone who indicates agreement, in response to a personality survey, with, “I am a humble person,” is not all that likely to be humble.  We consider this a contingent, empirical truth, not a conceptual one, but we think it’s a robust generalization nonetheless.  The basic strategy for our research is therefore to show that even the best explicit test of intellectual humility has less predictive power than an implicit test of intellectual humility.  Our behavioral outcome draws on resources from both social psychology (the Asch paradigm) and cognitive psychology (the vast literature on reasoning and patterns of fallacies and illusory inferences).  Brian Robinson discusses this in a bit more detail at his blog.

I’ll let the other successful teams detail their projects as they see fit in the comments.

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