Intellectual honesty

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Intellectual honesty

After having observed and been involved with online debate and various forums I have come to think lately about the subject of intellectual honesty.

Intellectual honesty is an academic method for the presentation of information in an unbiased and honest way.

This requires that…

  • Facts are presented in an unbiased manner.
  • Facts are not omitted even when they may contradict the writers preconceived ideas.
  • Personal beliefs are not allowed to interfere with the pursuit of truth.
  • References are cited where possible.
  • The presentation of information not be skewed to support the writers personal agenda.
  • Harvard ethicist Louis M. Guenin describes the “kernel” of intellectual honesty to be…

“a virtuous disposition to eschew deception when given an incentive for deception.”

Louis M. Guenin is quoted from Synthese, Vol. 145, No. 2, Candor in Science (Pub: Springer 2005)

I especially like Guenin’s brief and pregnant description because it cuts to the heart of the cause for the lack of Intellectual honesty.

I sincerely hope that in what is often a selfish and self serving world, we can more often find this “virtuous disposition to eschew deception” of which Guenin speaks within ourselves.


Further reading
General statements regarding intellectual honesty in reasearch and writing are given in the policies of all British universities and I can tell you from experience included in your induction information, and orientation lecture together with information regarding the consequences for non-compliant students. For those not in the UK I include example references to two Universities one in the USA and one in Canada.

On intellectual honesty (University of California ~ Irvine)
K.1 Statement of Intellectual Honesty (University of Calgary)

By | 2017-03-17T09:57:17+00:00 July 19th, 2012|Education, Life|2 Comments

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  1. Graydancer August 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    One of my fave bumper stickers: “ESCHEW OBFUSCATION.” I think that it’s a noble, but ultimately futile, hope in the rope world.

    • wykd August 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      To strive for better is never futile.

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