The Humility Gap

How can we become more open-minded?

Open-mindedness is generally perceived as a positive trait, but how do we cultivate it?

Does open-mindedness require a certain set of beliefs or can we bring deeply divergent convictions, identities, experiences and emotions into dialogue in open-minded ways?

Could practices and habits of intellectual humility help us to become more open-minded?

Each week through summer 2019 we will release a new podcast in which we explore these questions and more with leading academics, journalists and politicians.

Podcast Series

  • Episode #3: Café Chat – What does open-mindedness mean? primary image

    Episode #3: Café Chat – What does open-mindedness mean?


    August 6th 2019, 15:03

    The Oxford Character Project

    Bethan Willis talks to artist Anya Gleizer about open-mindedness across cultures, disciplines and professions.

    Episode #3: Café Chat – What does open-mindedness mean?

  • Episode #2: Alessandra Tanesini primary image

    Episode #2: Alessandra Tanesini


    July 30th 2019, 17:00

    The Oxford Character Project

    Bethan Willis interviews Alessandra Tanesini, Professor of Philosophy at Cardiff University.

    Episode #2: Alessandra Tanesini

  • Episode #1: Introducing the Humility Gap primary image

    Episode #1: Introducing the Humility Gap


    July 11th 2019, 11:40

    The Oxford Character Project

    Bethan Willis and Ed Brooks discuss the ideas and themes to be explored in this podcast series

    Episode #1: Introducing the Humility Gap


Project overview

One way to think about open-mindedness is through the lens of the habits and practices we might develop to bridge the gap between divisive debate and open-minded dialogue. In recent years many philosophers have focused in on the idea of “intellectual virtues” and one in particular—the virtue of intellectual humility—as a potential way forward.

Intellectual virtues are concerned with the character traits which enable us to be ‘good knowers’, people who acquire, share and use knowledge in morally excellent ways. As one of these intellectual virtues, humility stands in contrast to arrogance on the one hand and diffidence on the other, we might understand it as an awareness of the limits of one’s knowledge.

Drawing on perspectives from history, technology, philosophy, theology, politics and the media the Humility Gap project, an initiative of the Oxford Character Project, seeks to catalyse a constructive discussion on the nature and place of intellectual humility in academic enquiry and wider public discourse. Through a series of podcast interviews with a range of academics, journalists and politicians we hope to identify both the barriers to open-minded debate and the possibilities for nurturing open-mindedness.

Taking the challenges to open-mindedness and intellectual humility seriously we hope to question the role of open-mindedness in issues of justice; what humility means to those on the margins of public debates; and the difficulty of presenting convictions founded in personal experiences, emotions or identities in ways which both command attention and leave room for ongoing dialogue.

Over the academic year 2018-19, the Humility Gap will produce a series of podcasts, host an event in Parliament and release a number of editorials to catalyse wider conversation around these complex questions.

The Humility Gap project is funded by a fellowship from the University of Connecticut’s Humility and Conviction Project and is led by Dr Bethan Willis.


This project is is made possible through a subaward agreement from the University of Connecticut with funds provided by Grant No. 58942 from John Templeton Foundation. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of UConn or John Templeton Foundation.


  • Introducing the Humility Gap podcast series.