About IHS / Core Principles & Key Initiatives / Intellectual Humility

Intellectual Humility

About IHS / Core Principles & Key Initiatives / Intellectual Humility

Intellectual Humility

Intellectual Humility

While classical liberals emphasize the power of reason, they also recognize the limits of reason. A classical liberal understanding of the market economy, for example, recognizes that the knowledge required for complex social coordination is fundamentally dispersed across billions of people. This means that each of us knows only a small slice of the knowledge that is necessary for overall social coordination in a flourishing economy. This insight reminds classical liberals how little each of us actually knows and tempers any hubris of thinking we can bend all complex processes to our will. Classical liberal arguments for free speech also recognize the importance of intellectual humility. Those who favor limiting the speech of others are implicitly making the claim that they “know better” and can infallibly determine which speech should be deemed worthwhile. Classical liberals see and challenge the arrogance inherent in such a position and are led instead to the default assumption that all of us are wrong about some things, and it is only by listening to other people and continually testing our prior views that we can learn the things we might be wrong about.

Intellectual Humility Core Concept