Intellectual Humility and the Curse of Knowledge

In Michael Lynch & Alessandra Tanesini (eds.), Arrogance and Polarisation. Routledge (2021)
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This chapter explores an unappreciated psychological dimension of intellectual humility. In particular, I argue there is a plausible connection between intellectual humility and epistemic egocentrism. Epistemic egocentrism is a well-known cognitive bias – often called ‘the curse of knowledge’ – whereby an agent attributes his or her own mental states to other people. I hypothesize that an individual who exhibits this bias is more likely to possess a variety of traits that are characteristic of intellectual humility. This is surprising because intellectual humility is often regarded as an antidote to cognitive biases, whereas I claim that a particular cognitive bias (namely, the curse of knowledge) may help foster an intellectual virtue.
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