Oct 26, 2021

Community-Level Truth Seeking and Human Flourishing (video)

How is ‘the truth’ defined? Can searching for meaning and truth translate into societal growth?

By Templeton Staff

Our series highlighting the challenges and opportunities related to the advancement of human flourishing continues with this fourth and final installment. A panel of awardees from Templeton World Charity Foundation’s Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing meet for a webinar with Dr. Dawid Potgieter, Director of the foundation’s Programs in Discovery Science.

The panelists featured in this conversation are Dr. Michael Muthukrishna, London School of Economics; Dr. Joceyln Dautel, Queens University, Belfast; and Dr. Jing Xu, University of Washington. They discuss the role of community-level truth-seeking in societies, and explore how different cultures and disciplines have evolved in their approach to truth-seeking over time.

Key questions addressed in this discussion include:

- Is human flourishing possible when large groups of people disagree about what is true? 

- How does the concept of cultural evolution relate to our ideas of truth and how we discern credibility?

- Where does the illusion of explanatory depth — how we assume we understand more details about how an agreed-upon idea or mechanism works than we really do — come into play? Why do we trust the ideas and actions of the smartest people around us?

- How might encouraging epistemic vigilance — the likelihood or willingness we have to evaluate the reliability of the information we receive from others — reduce polarization and lead us closer to human flourishing?

- How do emotional or other kinds of commitments play into our concepts of what is true?

- What is the dichotomy between propositional truths and narrative truths? Can people hold simultaneous truths that aren't competing?

- Is the desire for freedom universal?

- How is the increased amount of interaction and connectivity that the internet and social media allows impacting us, in particular today's younger generations?

More about our panelists:

Dr. Jocelyn B. Dautel at Queen’s University, Belfast, and Dr. Jing Xu at the University of Washington and an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers collaborate to explore the definition, development, transmission, and evaluation of polarized narratives at different levels of society, with a focus on youth in Northern Ireland.

Michael Muthukrishna at the London School of Economics is examining what cultural evolution looks like in the 21st century and how we use the answer to ensure continued human flourishing.

View all four installments of this webinar series here.