Good judgment, then, is a precarious balancing act. We often learn we have gone too far in one direction only after it is too late to pull back. Executing this balancing act requires cognitive skills of a high order: the capacity to monitor our own thought processes for telltale signs of excessive closed- or open- mindedness and to strike a reflective equilibrium faithful to our conceptions of the norms of fair intellectual play. We need to cultivate the art of self-overhearing, to learn how to eavesdrop on the mental conversations we have with ourselves as we struggle to strike the right balance between preserving our existing worldview and rethinking core assumptions. This is no easy art to master. If we listen to ourselves carefully, we will often not like what we hear. And we will often be tempted to laugh off the exercise as introspective navel-gazing, as an infinite regress of homunculi spying on each other...all the way down. No doubt, such exercises can be take to excess. But, if I had to bet on the best long-term predictor of good judgment among the observers in this book, it would be their commitment--their soul-searching Socratic commitment--to thinking about how they think.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Unfortunately I have no time to write these days, but I have time to quote. So here is a gem I just came across. This is a philosophy that I wholeheartedly endorse but was largely ignorant of in times past. From Tetlock's wonderful "Expert Political Judgment," (p.215).