is an element of the public outreach effort for the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project, sponsored by the Humanities Institute at the University of Connecticut and the Templeton Foundation.
From a research perspective, personal conviction, as a moral, cultural, and emotional concept, has largely escaped scrutiny, with only a few studies investigating what is defined as “an unshakeable belief in something, without seeking evidence”; or, as the Oxford English Dictionary has it, “a firm and settled persuasion.” Beliefs are based on certain sets of values, but what about the much stronger term “conviction”? Where do our convictions come from? Why do they compel us to certain actions? Are they generated or maintained by certain affects? What does it cost us to follow our convictions? How do we communicate them to those around us? And can we listen when conviction clashes with conviction?
My April 2019 talk on “Conviction as a Concept of Cultures” provides an overview of the entire project: