Blog Post: [Part 5] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

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Dec 27, 2022 • 1y ago
[Part 5] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 4? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read it Here"},{"insert":"]\n"},{"attributes":{"underline":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"The Interdependence of the Intellectual Virtues"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nLet us now consider the interdependence of these virtues, how hard it is to deeply develop any one of them without also developing the others.\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nConsider intellectual humility. To become aware of the limits of our knowledge we need the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"courage"},{"insert":" to face our own prejudices and ignorance. To discover our own prejudices in turn we must often "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"empathize"},{"insert":" with and reason within points of view toward which we are hostile. To do this, we must typically "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"persevere"},{"insert":" over a period of time, for learning to empathetically enter a point of view against which we are biased takes time and significant effort. That effort will not seem justified unless we have the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"faith in reason"},{"insert":" to believe we will not be “tainted” or “taken in” by whatever is false or misleading in the opposing viewpoint. Furthermore, merely believing we can survive serious consideration of an “alien” point of view is not enough to motivate most of us to consider [it] seriously. We must also be motivated by an "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"intellectual sense of justice"},{"insert":". We must recognize an intellectual "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"responsibility"},{"insert":" to be fair to views we oppose. We must feel "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"obliged"},{"insert":" to hear them in their strongest form to ensure that we do not condemn them out of our own ignorance or bias. At this point, we come full circle back to where we began: the need for "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"intellectual humility"},{"insert":".\n \nOr let us begin at another point. Consider intellectual good faith or integrity. Intellectual integrity is clearly difficult to develop. We are often motivated – generally without admitting to or being aware of this motivation – to set up inconsistent intellectual standards. Our egocentric or sociocentric side readily believes positive information about those we like and negative information about those we dislike. We tend to believe what justifies our vested interest or validates our strongest desires. Hence, we all have some innate tendencies to use double standards, which is of course paradigmatic of intellectual bad faith. Such thought often helps us get ahead in the world, maximize our power or advantage, and get more of what we want.\n \nNevertheless, we cannot easily operate "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"explicitly"},{"insert":" or overtly with a double standard. We must, therefore, avoid looking at the evidence too closely. We cannot scrutinize our own inferences and interpretations too carefully. Hence, a certain amount of "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"intellectual arrogance"},{"insert":" is quite useful. I may assume, for example that I know just what you’re going to say (before you say it), precisely what you are really after (before the evidence demonstrates it), and what actually is going on (before I have studied the situation carefully). My intellectual arrogance makes it easier for me to avoid noticing the unjustifiable discrepancy in the standards I apply to you and those I apply to myself. Of course, if I didn’t have to empathize with you, that too makes it easier to avoid seeing my duplicity. I am also better off if I don’t feel a keen need to be "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"fair"},{"insert":" to your point of view. A little background "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"fear"},{"insert":" of what I might discover if I seriously considered the consistency of my own judgments also helps. In this case, my lack of intellectual integrity is supported by my lack of intellectual humility, empathy, and fairmindedness.\n \nGoing in the other direction, it will be difficult to maintain a double standard between us if I feel a distinct responsibility to be fair to your point of view, understand this responsibility to entail that I must view things from your perspective in an empathic fashion, and conduct this inner inquiry with some humility regarding the possibility of my being wrong and your being right. The more I dislike you personally or feel wronged in the past by you or by others who share your way of thinking, the more pronounced in my character must be the trait of intellectual integrity in order to provide the countervailing impetus to think my way to a fair conclusion.\n"}]}

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