This annual center lecture series is devoted to topics in the epistemology of education. It is co-sponsored by the School of Education.
The Anteater Virtues: What does it mean to be a good knower, and why should students – or anyone, for that matter, care?
Nancy E. Snow
The University of Kansas
Abstract: What does it mean to be a good knower, and why should students – or anyone, for that matter, care? These are the broad questions that I propose to investigate by way of an examination of the Anteater Virtues: curiosity, integrity, intellectual humility, and intellectual humility, that have been grouped together for special attention by the University of California, Irvine Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation. To address these questions, I propose to focus on three topics: (1) How this cluster of virtues can combine to form what we might call an “intellectual character profile” that can enable students to acquire and sustain various epistemic goods, such as knowledge and understanding; (2) How possessing these virtues contributes to personal enrichment, thereby furnishing students with the motivation to cultivate these virtues, both during their academic years and in later life; and (3) How possessing these virtues contributes to the qualities of character needed for good citizenship in our day and age, thereby providing everyone interested in the health and well-being of democracies with the motivation to cultivate these virtues. In connection with point (3), I comment on some of the systemic or structural issues that discourage the cultivation of these virtues in the United States today.
Nancy E. Snow joined the KU Philosophy Department as a tenured full professor in late August, 2022. She was formerly Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma. Her research interests are in virtue ethics, moral psychology, and virtue epistemology. She is the author of Virtue as Social Intelligence: An Empirically Grounded Theory (Routledge, 2010), Contemporary Virtue Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2020), and over fifty-five papers on virtue and ethics more broadly. She is the co-author (with Jennifer Cole Wright and Michael T. Warren) of Understanding Virtue: Theory and Measurement (Oxford University Press, 2021), has edited or co-edited seven volumes. She is the series editor of “The Virtues,” a fifteen-book series published by Oxford University Press. From 2014-2022, she has either co-directed, been the PI on, or been heavily involved with interdisciplinary grants totaling a little under $10 million. In addition to other projects, she is currently editing a book on hope, authoring a monograph on hope, and planning work on a monograph on virtue ethics and virtue epistemology.
Andrea English is an Associate Professor at the Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh. She previously taught at Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada and Humboldt University Berlin, Germany. She specializes in the philosophy of education. Her publications include Discontinuity in Learning: Dewey, Herbart and Education as Transformation, (Cambridge UP, 2013).
ABSTRACT: In this talk I will argue that a central educational aim is that of fostering the rationality of students. I will (1) explain rationality's tight connection to the often-discussed educational aim of critical thinking, and provide an account of the latter; (2) compare that aim with relevant alternatives, especially alternative epistemic aims such as the fostering of understanding and of epistemic virtues; (3) explore the proper place of testimony in teaching and learning; and (4) relate the aim to the related ideal of autonomy, and to familiar worries concerning indoctrination, epistemic dependence, and to postmodern worries concerning illicitly universalizing meta-narratives, esp. those concerning such allegedly universal ideals as those involving rationality and reasons. Finally, I will offer a justification of it in terms of the Kantian principle of respect for persons: fostering students’ rationality, I will argue, is the only aim that treats students with respect as persons.
Harvey Siegel is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He is one of the world's leading figures in the field of the epistemology of education. His monographs include Educating Reason: Rationality, Critical Thinking, and Education (Routledge, 1988), Rationality Redeemed? Further Dialogues on an Educational Ideal, (Routledge, 1997), and most recently Education’s Epistemology: Rationality, Diversity, and Critical Thinking, (Oxford University Press, 2017).