Intellectual Generosity in Mathematics: Stanford 2019

Roberts and Wood (2007) offer a rich analysis of a variety of intellectual virtues, including intellectual generosity.  They illustrate their analysis with a number of case studies drawn from science and argue that intellectual generosity leads to the development of new intellectual goods.  In this talk, I support their analysis with a case study from mathematics: William Thurston.  In particular, I show that Thurston was intellectually generous in a way that matches Roberts and Wood’s analysis and that his generosity led to the development of new intellectual goods.  Finally, I use the Thurston case study to suggest that generosity can yield new intellectual goods by fostering the formation of diverse research communities.

Roberts and Wood Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology, Oxford, 2007.