Self-righteousness

 

 

Principal investigator: Prof. John Lippitt 
Period:  1. 1. 2024 – 31. 12. 2028
ERC CZ Grant No. LL2308 (MŠMT)
Title in Czech: "Morální povýšenost - neřest digitálního věku a její potírání"

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Project description

Self-righteousness has a serious claim to be one of the vices of the digital age. The risks associated with echo chambers and political polarisation involve an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality, in which ‘we’ judge ‘them’ as not just mistaken but immoral. Yet despite a burgeoning interest in moral and intellectual virtues and vices in philosophy and related disciplines in recent years, self-righteousness remains no more than a footnote. Drawing on both moral philosophy and the social anthropology/sociology of digital media cultures, this project addresses a serious ethical challenge which threatens our ability to live together in a manner understanding and respectful of diverse opinions. The project’s main objectives are:

  • To develop the first comprehensive study of self-righteousness as one of the most significant vices of the digital age, treating it as a vice of both individuals and groups
  • To show the relevance of self-righteousness for understanding such phenomena as echo chambers and the forms of anger that fuel polarisation
  • To explore how the vice of self-righteousness can be combatted, including proposals to promote the cultivation of countervailing virtues such as greater generosity of spirit in discourse to reduce social divisions.

These objectives will be developed under the following sub-projects: 

Sub-project A - A detailed new account of the vice of self-righteousness. Drawing on moral philosophy, religion and literature, this sub-project will explore self-righteousness both as a moral and an epistemic vice, and one to which both individuals and groups are prone. It will explore how self-righteousness is related to – but differs from – vices such as closed-mindedness, intellectual arrogance, hypocrisy, and moralism.  

Sub-project B - Self-righteousness and moral criticism in the digital age: anger, activism and polarisation. The importance of sub-project A will be demonstrated by showing its potential to impact upon contemporary debates about pressing social problems such as: epistemic bubbles, echo chambers and their capacity to spread misinformation; moral grandstanding or ‘virtue-signalling’; and the roles of anger in fuelling polarisation. It will investigate the moral psychology of individual and group self-righteousness, exploring how self-righteousness typically fuels anger and blocks compassion, and the implications of this for our engagement with others, online and offline. Critically investigating recent work on the moral value of anger, it will explore what concerns about self-righteousness imply about the nature of moral criticism online, the ethics of social punishment (such as social media naming-and-shaming), and what morally responsible uses and forms of activism would look like.   

Sub-project C – Combatting self-righteousness. In considering how the theoretical research of sub-projects A and B can be applied in practice to combat self-righteousness, the project will consider two strategies:  

  1. Cultivating countervailing virtues. What virtues counteract self-righteousness? As well as humility, open-mindedness and forgivingness, the project will pay particular attention to generosity of spirit, a virtue as underexplored as is the vice of self-righteousness. It is anticipated that a fleshed-out account of this virtue will be a vital tool in addressing the problems with which this project is concerned.  
  2. Tackling societal factors. What features of the design and modes of inhabiting digital spaces exacerbate the harms of self-righteousness, and how can these be minimised? This sub-project will address this question by bringing the philosophical work of the other sub-projects into dialogue with work on the social anthropology/sociology of digital media cultures, paying particular attention to the specifics of digital spaces in Central Europe. 

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Team members

Principal investigator: Prof. John Lippitt 

Senior research fellow: Dr. Kamila Pacovská (from July 2024)

Senior research fellow: Doc. Tomáš Hejduk

Research fellow (philosophy): Job competition now closed.

Research fellow (social anthropology/sociology): Job competition now open, for more details see here.

PhD student (philosophy): Call for applications now closed. 

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Contacts

Principal investigator: Prof. John Lippitt (johnandrew.lippitt@upce.cz)
Deputy PI: Dr. Kamila Pacovská (kamila.pacovska@upce.cz)
Project financial manager: Jana Wagnerová (jana.wagnerova@upce.cz)

 

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Job openings

 

Name of the position Application deadline
1. Research fellow (philosophy) - closed 28 March 2024
2. PhD scholarship  30 April 2024
3. Research fellow (sociology) - open  30 August 2024

 

1. Research fellow (Moral and/or Social Philosophy)

  • Position: Research Fellow
  • Duration: 2 years (potentially renewable for a further 2 years)
  • Number of positions: 1 (full time)
  • Disciplines: Philosophy
  • Location: Centre for Ethics, University of Pardubice, Czech Republic
  • Start date: 1 September 2024 (preferred but negotiable)

Combatting self-righteousness: a vice of the digital age (ERC CZ Grant No. LL2308 (MŠMT)) is a prestigious five-year research project led by Professor John Lippitt and based at the Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value, University of Pardubice. The post here advertised is a full-time, research-only position within a small project team of up to 5 researchers. The successful applicant will be given academic and administrative support to pursue their research within the bounds of the project and the opportunity to participate in the Centre's lively research environment. In return, they will be expected to make a substantial contribution to the project’s publication outputs, including through single- and/or co-authored articles in well-regarded international journals. We especially welcome candidates with a good publication record relative to career stage, and who are keen to pursue research on at least one of the following topics:

  • vices and virtues in digital environments
  • collective/group vices and virtues
  • moralism
  • other vices relevant to self-righteousness (e.g. pride, hypocrisy, closed-mindedness)
  • epistemic/affective bubbles and echo chambers
  • moral grandstanding/virtue-signalling
  • the ethics of anger
  • ethical aspects of polarization
  • moral criticism and the ethics of social punishment

Further details of the project may be found here: Self-righteousness | Centre for ethics (upce.cz)

For more information on the advertised position please see:  https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/189508 or Official advert site

We especially welcome applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Requirements:

  • Ph.D. or equivalent, awarded by the intended start date
  • track record of independent publications
  • research interests relevant to the project topic
  • fluency in English.

For further inquiries, contact Prof. John Lippitt (johnandrew.lippitt@upce.cz) or Dr. Kamila Pacovská (kamila.pacovska@upce.cz).

Applications should be sent by March 28th, 2024 to Gabriela Kaufmanová (gabriela.kaufmanova@upce.cz). Please state “Research position, Self-Righteousness Project” in the e-mail subject line.

 

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2. PhD scholarship in philosophy - call for applications (deadline 30 April 2024)

  • Position: PhD Scholarship
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Number of positions: 1
  • Disciplines: Philosophy
  • Location: Centre for Ethics, University of Pardubice, Czech Republic
  • Start date: 1 October 2024

Combatting self-righteousness: a vice of the digital age (ERC CZ Grant No. LL2308 (MŠMT)) is a prestigious five-year research project led by Professor John Lippitt and based at the Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value, University of Pardubice. The scholarship here advertised will fund a competitive full-time PhD studentship that will contribute to the goals of this project. The successful applicant will be given academic and administrative support to pursue their research within the bounds of the project and the opportunity to participate in the Centre’s lively PhD community. We especially welcome candidates with a strong academic record who are keen to pursue research on or related to one or more of the following topics:

  • vices and virtues in digital environments
  • collective/group vices and virtues
  • moralism
  • other vices relevant to self-righteousness (e.g. pride, hypocrisy, closed-mindedness)
  • epistemic/affective bubbles and echo chambers
  • moral grandstanding/virtue-signalling
  • the ethics of anger
  • ethical aspects of polarization
  • moral criticism and the ethics of social punishment

Further details of the project may be found here: Self-righteousness | Centre for ethics (upce.cz)

We especially welcome applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Requirements:

  • The applicants follow the general Admission requirements to the PhD Programme in  Philosophy at the University of Pardubice.
  • Please indicate your interest in this position in your Research Proposal and explain how your Research Proposal would contribute to/fit into the project’s themes.

Practical information

  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult in advance with their prospective supervisor on their Research Proposal, so please contact Professor Lippitt (johnandrew.lippitt@upce.cz)
  • The standard length of study is 4 years in the full-time study mode, starting at the beginning of the academic year. The project offers a generous monthly stipend for that period provided that all study and project requirements are met.
  • The working language of the PhD programme and of the Centre is English and applicants should have a good grasp of academic English. No knowledge of Czech is required.
  • The University of Pardubice is located within walking distance from the historical centre of Pardubice, a charming city in the heart of Europe. Pardubice is well connected by train to several major European cities, including Prague (1 hour) and Vienna (3 hours).

Applicants for this position follow the general guidelines for application into the PhD Study at the University of Pardubice. Applications together with all the required documents and application fee should be submitted by 30th April 2024 via Electronic admission application.

For further inquiries, contact Prof. John Lippitt (johnandrew.lippitt@upce.cz) or Dr. Kamila Pacovská (kamila.pacovska@upce.cz).

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3. Research fellow (sociology)  - extended deadline: 30 August 2024

  • Position: Research Fellow
  • Duration: 2 years (potentially renewable for a further 2 years)
  • Number of positions: 1 (part/full time)
  • Disciplines: sociology and/or social anthropology of digital media cultures
  • Location: Centre for Ethics, University of Pardubice, Czech Republic
  • Start date: 1 January 2025 (preferred but negotiable)

 

“Combatting self-righteousness: a vice of the digital age” (ERC CZ Grant No. LL2308 (MŠMT)) is a five-year research project led by Professor John Lippitt and based at the Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Pardubice. The post here advertised is a research-only position (offered on a full or part-time basis) within a small project team of up to 5 researchers. The successful applicant will be given academic and administrative support to pursue their research within the bounds of the project and the opportunity to participate in the Centre's lively research environment. In return, they will be expected to make a substantial contribution to the project’s publication outputs, including through single- and/or co-authored articles in well-regarded international journals. They will also present research results at international conferences/workshops and support the PI in organising an international conference at Pardubice.

Prospective candidates should familiarise themselves with the project as described here: Self-righteousness | Centre for ethics (upce.cz).

We seek candidates who, drawing on their expertise in sociology and/or social anthropology, can take a lead on Sub-Project C2. We envisage this as including designing research studies that will explore in specific contexts the developing view of self-righteousness emerging from Sub-project A, in constructive dialogue with the PI and other philosophers working on the project. We also envisage that knowledge of research in the successful candidate’s discipline pertaining to Sub-project B (e.g. on epistemic bubbles, echo chambers and/or polarisation) will enable the Research Fellow to contribute to the developing work of this Sub-Project.

For more information on the advertised position please see: Official advert site and Euraxess advert

We especially welcome applications from candidates with a good publication record relative to career stage and from members of underrepresented groups.

Qualifications required:

  • Applicants must have an advanced degree (Ph.D. or equivalent, awarded by the intended start date) and a track record of independent publications. We are particularly interested in candidates with substantial experience in an international context, so please include details of publications in international fora, research stays abroad, international collaborations, etc.
  • Knowledge of Czech and the Czech social media context would be advantageous.

We offer:

  • full-time or part-time contract for two years, with the possibility of renewal for a further two years
  • a research position with no teaching requirements and minimal administrative obligations
  • an internationally competitive salary
  • additional benefits of health and social insurance
  • a travel allowance, workplace with PC, well-equipped library and electronic resources
  • a friendly workplace environment highly conducive to research in the Centre for Ethics, an international research centre whose working language is English.

Documents and information (in English) to be submitted with the application:

  • Professional CV, including a list of publications and other research activities
  • Copy of research degree documentation. (Documents that are not originally in Czech or English must be translated into English. If the application is submitted before the applicant’s Ph.D. defence, the applicant must enclose a signed declaration of its date that must be prior to the intended start date of the employment.)
  • Cover letter explaining your interest in and qualifications for the position (1-2 pages)
  • Detailed description of planned research for this position (2 pages)
  • Names and contact details of three academic referees
  • A sample of academic writing of journal article length (e.g. a published paper) broadly relevant to the research area of the project.  
  • Please specify whether you wish to be considered for the position on a full- or part-time basis, and if the latter, your preferred fraction.

The application, together with all the attachments, should be sent by 30th August 2024 by e-mail to Gabriela Kaufmanová (gabriela.kaufmanova@upce.cz). Please state “Research position, Self-Righteousness Project” in the e-mail subject line.

The recruitment committee will invite selected applicants for an interview (conducted in English) . Interviews will be conducted by video conference, so please state in your Cover Letter your time zone on those dates. For further inquiries, contact one or both of the following members of the project team: Prof. John Lippitt (johnandrew.lippitt@upce.cz) or Dr. Kamila Pacovská (kamila.pacovska@upce.cz)