Author: Morariu, Megan

The Conviction Workshop – February 1-2, 2019

“How ought we to believe?” For the participants at The Conviction Workshop, this question raised a number of concerns about the nature, function and appropriateness of “conviction.” As a moral, cultural, emotional and political concept, conviction bridges the ground between belief and action. For some, moral convictions can serve to protect or correct normative structures; it might mean committing oneself to action or detachment; be uncritical or allow for evaluation; can be a product of one’ s social atmosphere or the proof of one’s individuality; and be the difference between blind acceptance or true knowledge. In exploring this concept, the workshop examined questions, such as 1) What is a conviction? 2) How do we acquire convictions? 3) What is required to hold or express a conviction?
This interdisciplinary workshop featured talks given by Jen Cole Wright (Psychology), Matthew Pianalto (Philosophy & Religion), Deborah Mower (Philosophy), Christiane Heibach (Media Studies) and Justin E. H. Smith (History). The papers from this workshop will be gathered together in a larger collection so that conviction can be better understood, communicated, and practiced today.




New Article by Intellectual Humility in Public Discourse RFP Research Leader Philip Fernbach

Photo by Maarten Wijnants on Unsplash
Article published in Nature Human Behaviour :

Extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least but think they know the most 

by Philip M. Fernbach, Nicholas Light, Sydney E. Scott, Yoel Inbar, Paul Rozin

SEWing Circle Featured Speaker: Deborah Mower


 “Moral Conviction and Civility”
Thursday, December 6, UCHI Conference Room, 2:00 – 3:30 PM
 Deborah Mower is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mississippi, and specializes in Moral Psychology, Applied Ethics, Moral Education, Virtue Ethics, and Asian Philosophy.
 American political discourse has always been combative but recent years have brought a marked increase in incivility, vitriol, and violence among both private citizens and public figures. While there are doubtless many causes for this increase, there is a corresponding rise in identity politics, polarization, information filtering and avoidance, heightened moral judgment, and adoption of outrage culture. Psychologists have studied the phenomenon of moral conviction and offer helpful ways to understand at least part of this recent rise of incivility. Moral conviction is a specific attitude subjects take toward some issue and is characterized by universality, objectivity, autonomy, and emotional intensity, yielding increased motivation and justification for action (Skitka 2010). Clearly, moral conviction matters for our individual choices and for motivating moral progress, but it also carries a dark side of incivility, intolerance, non-engagement (avoidance), and violence toward those who are thought to hold different moral views. I offer an account of civility as an orienting attitude toward the procedures and standards of dynamic exchange. As an orienting attitude, civility can moderate moral conviction by promoting its positive functions while limiting its dark outcomes.