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The Intellectual Virtues: Honesty

Lisa Eekhoff| November 19, 2019

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

Many of the intellectual virtues speak to the manner in which we pursue truth and gain understanding. Intellectual honesty is a virtue that influences how we use the knowledge that we have.

Intellectual honesty is a virtue that influences how we use the knowledge that we have.

Do we communicate what we know with integrity? Do we avoid misleading arguments or distortions of the truth? Do we give credit where it is due for ideas that are not our own?  Each of these acts reflect the habit of intellectual honesty.

There are significant consequences for dishonesty in our thinking and in our presentation of ideas. Not only does it erode the trust that is foundational to healthy relationships, it can also have a profound effect on who we become. Over time we begin to rationalize our thoughts and behavior and to lose our taste for the truth.

Small acts such as taking information out of context, misquoting or failing to cite a source, or cheating on an exam are not isolated. They become a pattern that shapes our character.

“We ask our students to exhibit the courage to seek truth even when it contradicts their own biases.”

In contrast, we ask our students to exhibit the courage to seek truth even when it contradicts their own biases, the humility to admit when they are wrong, and the carefulness to report ideas and conclusions fairly.

In this way, they build a foundation of knowledge and understanding that inspires confidence and reflects a heart of integrity.

About the Author: Lisa Eekhoff is the principal at Covenant Classical School in Naperville, IL.

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