What is intellectual humility? In this essay, we aim to answer this question by assessing several contemporary accounts of intellectual humility, developing our own account, offering two reasons for our account, and meeting two objections and solving one puzzle.
Intellectual humility, I argue in this paper, is a cluster of strong attitudes directed toward one's cognitive make-up and its components, together with the cognitive and affective states that constitute their contents or bases, which serve knowledge and value-expressive functions. In order to defend this new account of humility I first examine two simpler traits: intellectual self-acceptance of epistemic limitations and intellectual modesty about epistemic successes. The position defended here addresses the shortcomings of both ignorance and accuracy based (...) accounts of humility. (shrink)
Rae Langton offers a new interpretation and defense of Kant's doctrine of things in themselves. Kant distinguishes things in themselves from phenomena, and in so doing he makes a metaphysical distinction between intrinsic and relational properties of substances. Langton argues that his claim that we have no knowledge of things in themselves is not idealism, but epistemic humility: we have no knowledge of the intrinsic properties of substances. This interpretation vindicates Kant's scientific realism, and shows his primary/secondary quality distinction (...) to be superior even to modern-day competitors. And it answers the famous charge that Kant's tale of things in themselves is one that makes itself untellable. (shrink)
Two intellectual vices seem to always tempt us: arrogance and diffidence. Regarding the former, the world is permeated by dogmatism and table-thumping close-mindedness. From politics, to religion, to simple matters of taste, zealots and ideologues all too often define our disagreements, often making debate and dialogue completely intractable. But to the other extreme, given a world with so much pluralism and heated disagreement, intellectual apathy and a prevailing agnosticism can be simply all too alluring. So the need for intellectual (...) class='Hi'>humility, open-mindedness, and a careful, humble commitment to the truth are apparent. In this book, Dr Church and Dr Samuelson explicate a robust and vibrant account of the philosophy and science of this most valuable virtue, and they highlight how it can be best applied and personally developed. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the relationship of virtue, argumentation, and philosophical conduct by considering the role of the specific virtue of intellectual humility in the practice of philosophical argumentation. I have three aims: first, to sketch an account of this virtue; second, to argue that it can be cultivated by engaging in argumentation with others; and third, to problematize this claim by drawing upon recent data from social psychology. My claim is that philosophical argumentation can be conducive to (...) the cultivation of virtues, including humility, but only if it is conceived and practiced in appropriately ‘edifying’ ways. (shrink)
In ‘Ramseyan Humility’ David Lewis argues that a particular view about fundamental properties, quidditism, leads to the position that we are irredeemably ignorant of the identities of fundamental properties. We are ignorant of the identities of fundamental properties since we can never know which properties play which causal roles, and we have no other way of identifying fundamental properties other than by the causal roles they play. It has been suggested in the philosophical literature that Lewis’ argument for (...) class='Hi'>Humility is merely an instance of traditional scepticism, to which traditional responses to scepticism are applicable. I agree that in ‘Ramseyan Humility’ Lewis does present an argument to which it is appropriate to consider the applicability of responses to traditional scepticism—he argues that we irredeemably lack the evidence to rule out possibilities in which different properties occupy the causal roles described by our best physical theory. And prima facie this is just the kind of argument responses to traditional scepticism are designed to tackle. However, I will argue that Lewis bolsters this argument with a second. This second argument serves to deepen Lewis’ case and cannot be met with a response to traditional scepticism. For Lewis argues that not only do we lack evidence for which properties play which roles, we lack the ability to grasp any such proposition about role-occupancy. And if we cannot grasp any such proposition we cannot know it. (shrink)
My argument in this paper is that humility is implied in the concept of teaching, if teaching is construed in a strong sense. Teaching in a strong sense is a view of teaching as linked to students’ embodied experiences (including cognitive and moral-social dimensions), in particular students’ experiences of limitation, whereas a weak sense of teaching refers to teaching as narrowly focused on student cognitive development. In addition to detailing the relation between humility and strong sense teaching, I (...) will also argue that humility is acquired through the practice of teaching. My discussion connects to the growing interest, especially in virtue epistemology discourse, in the idea that teachers should educate for virtues. Drawing upon John Dewey and contemporary virtue epistemology discourse, I discuss humility, paying particular attention to an overlooked aspect of humility that I refer to as the educative dimension of humility. I then connect this concept of humility to the notion of teaching in a strong sense. In the final section, I discuss how humility in teaching is learned in the practice of teaching by listening to students in particular ways. In addition, I make connections between my concept of teaching and the practice of cultivating students’ virtues. I conclude with a critique of common practices of evaluating good teaching, which I situate within the context of international educational policy on teacher evaluation. (shrink)
We critique two popular philosophical definitions of intellectual humility: the “low concern for status” and the “limitations-owning.” accounts. Based upon our analysis, we offer an alternative working definition of intellectual humility: the virtue of accurately tracking what one could non-culpably take to be the positive epistemic status of one’s own beliefs. We regard this view of intellectual humility both as a virtuous mean between intellectual arrogance and diffidence and as having advantages over other recent conceptions of intellectual (...)humility. After defending this view, we sketch remaining questions and issues that may bear upon the psychological treatment of intellectual humility such as whether evidence will help determine how this construct relates to general social humility on the one hand, and intellectual traits such as open-mindedness, curiosity, and honesty on the other. (shrink)
Although virtues have gained a firm presence in the theory and practice of corporate management, humility is not ranked as one the chief virtues in the business world. In spite of this, it is an important virtue, contributing to the manager’s moral and professional quality and the development of the company’s human team. This paper explains the basic traits of humility in general and how they manifest in the manager’s life and profession, and shows, within the ethics of (...) virtues, that it is not just a personal desideratum but a fundamental quality of a good manager and good management. (shrink)
In the Ethics Spinoza defines certain traditional virtues such as humility and repentance as species of sadness and denies that they are virtues. He nonetheless holds that they can turn out to be useful as a means towards virtue—in fact, the greatest virtue of blessedness—in the life of someone who is not guided by reason. In this paper, I examine Spinoza’s relatively overlooked claim regarding the usefulness of sad passions as a means towards blessedness. In taking up Spinoza’s treatment (...) of humility as my case study, I show that there is a tension between this claim and his other explicit commitments in the Ethics. More specifically, after considering his views regarding the consequences of humility—including, most notably, its susceptibility to envy—and conditions of achieving blessedness, I show that humility cannot effectively be said to bring about cooperation and push “weak-minded” people in the right direction so that, in the end, they may be free and enjoy blessedness. I conclude by suggesting that if we must rely on passions as a means towards virtue in the Spinozistic universe, we must rely not on debilitating sad passions such as humility, but on joy-based social passions such as love. -/- . (shrink)
Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth, 2013, 6th edition, eds. Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. In this essay, I argue that the moral skepticism objection to what is badly named "skeptical theism" fails.
Some of the most interesting works in virtue ethics are the detailed, perceptive treatments of specific virtues and vices. This chapter aims to develop such work as it relates to intellectual virtues and vices. It begins by examining the virtue of intellectual humility. Its strategy is to situate humility in relation to its various opposing vices, which include vices like arrogance, vanity, conceit, egotism, grandiosity, pretentiousness, snobbishness, haughtiness, and self-complacency. From this list vanity and arrogance are focused on (...) in particular. Humble persons are not distinguished from arrogant persons by being unaware of or unconcerned with entitlements; rather, they lack the arrogance that entails a specific kind of motivation called ‘ego-exalting potency’. Humble people are motivated by pure interests regarding entitlements given their ability to serve as means to some valuable purpose or project. The chapter ends by considering a wide variety of ways intellectual humility can promote the acquisition of epistemic goods. (shrink)
Viewed from a certain perspective, nothing can seem more secure than introspection. Consider an ordinary conscious episode—say, your current visual experience of the colour of this page. You can judge, when reflecting on this experience, that you have a visual experience as of something white with black marks before you. Does it seem reasonable to doubt this introspective judgement? Surely not—such doubt would seem utterly fanciful. The trustworthiness of introspection is not only assumed by commonsense, it is also taken for (...) granted by many of theorists about the mind. Within both philosophy and the science of consciousness it is widely held that introspection is generally reliable, at least with respect to the question of one’s current (or immediately prior) conscious states. Without this assumption, we could not make sense of theorists’ widespread use of introspection, both in support of their own position and to undermine that of their opponents. (shrink)
David Lewis argues for Ramseyan humility, the thesis that we can’t identify the fundamental properties that occupy the nomological roles at our world. Lewis, however, remarks that there is a potential exception to this, which involves assuming two views concerning qualia panphenomenalism : all instantiated fundamental properties are qualia and the identification thesis : we can know the identities of our qualia simply by being acquainted with them. This paper aims to provide an exposition, as well as an assessment, (...) of this response to the humility thesis. (shrink)
The virtue of humility is often considered to be at odds with common business practice. In recent years, however, scholars within business ethics and leadership have shown an increasing interest in humility. Despite such attention, the argument for the relevance of humility in business could be expanded. Unlike extant research that focuses on humility as a character-building virtue or instrumentally useful leadership trait, this article argues that humility reflects the interdependent nature of business. Through such (...) an approach, the article gives an extrinsic motivation of the relevance of humility in business, and, from a theoretical point of view, links the intra-personal and intra-organizational perspective on humility to an inter-organizational one. The article contextualizes the virtue of humility by relating it to the economic, cognitive, and moral aspects of business practice and managerial work. It claims that the assumption of self-sufficiency in business is a grave misrepresentation of what business is—a practice characterized by interdependency. Potential links between virtue ethics, leadership, and contextually oriented theories of business, such as stakeholder theory, network theories, and resource dependence theory, are also identified. (shrink)
Say that an agent is "epistemically humble" if she is less than certain that her opinions will converge to the truth, given an appropriate stream of evidence. Is such humility rationally permissible? According to the orgulity argument : the answer is "yes" but long-run convergence-to-the-truth theorems force Bayesians to answer "no." That argument has no force against Bayesians who reject countable additivity as a requirement of rationality. Such Bayesians are free to count even extreme humility as rationally permissible.
Physicians and other medical practitioners make untold numbers of judgments about patient care on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. These judgments fall along a number of spectrums, from the mundane to the tragic, from the obvious to the challenging. Under the rubric of evidence-based medicine, these judgments will be informed by the robust conclusions of medical research. In the ideal circumstance, medical research makes the best decision obvious to the trained professional. Even when practice approximates this ideal, it does (...) so unevenly. Judgments in medical practice are always accompanied by uncertainty, and this uncertainty is a fickle companion—constant in its presence but inconstant in its expression. This feature of medical judgments gives rise to the moral responsibility of medical practitioners to be epistemically humble. This requires the recognition and communication of the uncertainty that accompanies their judgment as well as a commitment to avoiding intuitive innovations. (shrink)
Kant once wrote, “Many historians of philosophy... let the philosophers speak mere nonsense.... They cannot see beyond what the philosophers actually said to what they really meant to say.’ Rae Langton begins her book with this quotation. She concludes it, after a final pithy summary of the position that she attributes to Kant, with the comment, “That, it seems to me, is what Kant said, and meant to say”. In between are some two hundred pages of admirably clear, tightly argued (...) exegesis, supplemented by detailed references, in which she offers what the dust jacket blurb fairly describes as “a new interpretation and defence of Kant’s doctrine of things in themselves.” This is an extremely engaging and thought-provoking book. I am pleased to recommend it. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that one strong motivation for adopting a conciliatory stance with regard to the epistemology of peer disagreement is that the non-conciliatory alternatives are incompatible with the demands of intellectual character, and incompatible with the virtue of intellectual humility in particular. It is argued that this is a mistake, at least once we properly understand what intellectual humility involves. Given some of the inherent problems facing conciliatory proposals, it is maintained that non-conciliatory approaches to epistemic (...) peer disagreement are thus on much stronger dialectical ground than many suppose, including some defenders of this line. In particular, non-conciliatory proposals can resist the idea that epistemic peer disagreement directly weakens one’s epistemic justification, as conciliatory views maintain. This means that the epistemic justification that our beliefs in this regard enjoy, and thus our knowledge, is more secure than conciliatory approaches to epistemic peer disagreement would suggest. (shrink)
In "Ramseyan Humility," David Lewis argues that we cannot know what the fundamental properties in our world are. His arguments invoke the possibility of permutations and replacements of fundamental properties. Most responses focus on Lewis’s view on the relationship between properties and roles, and on the assumptions about knowledge that he makes. I argue that no matter how the debates about knowledge and about the metaphysics of properties turn out, Lewis’s arguments are unconvincing since they rely on a highly (...) implausible assumption about the expressive power of our language. (shrink)
Humility has not always been regarded as a virtue. Aristotle, if he recognized it at all, seems to have regarded it as a vice, a deficiency in regard to magnanimity. In the popular culture of the twenty-first century, while courage is held in high moral esteem, the regard given to humility is more questionable. Humility, however, is not universally dismissed as a virtue. Many see it as having moral value. In fact, a number of contemporary philosophers are (...) relatively clear that humility is a morally valuable trait and so is a moral virtue, although they disagree about its character. For traditional Christianity and Judaism, of course, and for other religious traditions, humility is a religious virtue. However, if humility is a religious virtue, is it different from humility as a moral virtue? Below, we shall start in section II with the question, What is the best way to understand the general notion of humility? In section III it shall be followed by the question, What are the core contrasting states that humility opposes? Third , in section IV we shall ask, Does humility as a religious virtue have a distinctive and abiding character? (shrink)
Various studies have recognized the importance of humility as a foundational aspect of virtuous leadership and have revealed the beneficial effects of leader humility on employee moral attitudes and behaviors. However, these findings may overestimate the benefits of leader humility and overlook its potential costs. Integrating person–supervisor fit theory and balance theory with the humility literature, we employ a dyadic approach to consider supervisor and employee humility simultaneously. We investigate whether and how the congruence of (...) supervisor and employee humility influences employee citizenship and deviance behaviors. We conducted a multilevel, multiphase, and multisource field study to test our hypotheses. The results of cross-level polynomial regression analyses revealed that when supervisors and employees were incongruent in humility, employees experienced higher levels of negative affect toward supervisors. Also, compared to those in low–low congruent dyads, employee negative affect toward supervisors was lower in high–high congruent dyads. The results further revealed asymmetric incongruence effects: employees experienced the highest levels of negative affect toward supervisors when their own humility was lower than their supervisors’. In addition, we found that employee negative affect toward supervisors mediated the impacts of supervisor–employee congruence in humility on employee organizational citizenship behavior and counterproductive work behavior. (shrink)
Ramseyan humility is the thesis that we cannot know which properties realize the roles specified by the laws of completed physics. Lewis seems to offer a sceptical argument for this conclusion. Humean fundamental properties can be permuted as to their causal roles and distribution throughout spacetime, yielding alternative possible worlds with the same fundamental structure as actuality, but at which the totality of available evidence is the same. On the assumption that empirical knowledge requires evidence, we cannot know which (...) of these worlds is actual. However, Lewis also appeals to a range of familiar semantic principles when framing his argument, which leads some authors to suppose that he can also plausibly be interpreted as offering a purely semantic argument for humility in addition. In this paper I grant that these arguments are Lewisian, but argue that Lewis is also committed to a theory of mind that licenses a purely metaphysical argument for humility based on the idea that mental properties supervene on fundamental structure. Given that knowing which x is the F requires knowing that a is the F, the supposition that we could come to know which properties actually occupy the fundamental roles entails differences in mental properties between worlds with the same fundamental structure, violating supervenience. Humility follows right away, without any further epistemic or semantic principles. This argument is immune to almost every way of rebutting the sceptical and semantic arguments; conversely, almost every way of rebutting the metaphysical argument tells equally against the others. (shrink)
In a fallen world fraught with evidence against religious beliefs, it is tempting to think that, on the assumption that those beliefs are true, the best way to protect them is to hold them dogmatically. Dogmatic belief, which is highly confident and resistant to counterevidence, may fail to exhibit epistemic virtues such as humility and may instead manifest epistemic vices such as arrogance or servility, but if this is the price of secure belief in religious truths, so be it. (...) I argue, however, that even in a world full of misleading evidence against true religious beliefs, cultivating epistemic humility is the better way to achieve believers’ epistemic aims. The reason is that dogmatic belief courts certain epistemic dangers, including to the true religious beliefs themselves, whereas epistemic humility empowers believers to counter them. (shrink)
I define humility as a virtue that includes both proper self-assessment and a self-lowering other-centeredness. I then argue that humility, so understood, is a virtue in the context of sport, for several reasons. Humility is a component of sportspersonship, deters egoism in sport, fuels athletic aspiration and risk-taking, fosters athletic forms of self-knowledge, decreases the likelihood of an athlete seeking to strongly humiliate her opponents or be weakly humiliated by them, and can motivate an athlete to achieve (...) greater levels of excellence in her sport. In the context of team sports, humility can contribute to an athlete being a better teammate, foster unity amidst diversity within a team, and contribute to the overall moral and athletic excellence of a team. I also argue that an individual who is truly the world's greatest athlete can know and communicate this truth, while remaining humble. (shrink)
This article discusses conceptions of modesty and humility and their key features. It gives a brief historical overview of debates about whether or not they’re really virtues at all. It also discusses theories of modesty and humility that root them in the presence or absence of particular beliefs, emotions, desires, and attention. it also discusses related phenomena in epistemology: rational limits on self-ascription of error, attitudes to disagreement, and openness to alternative views.
Empathy can be terribly important when we talk to people who are different from ourselves. And it can be terribly important that we talk to people who are different precisely about those things that make us different. If we’re to have productive conversations across differences, then, it seems we must develop empathy with people who are deeply different. But, as Laurie Paul and others point out, it can be impossible to imagine oneself as someone who is deeply different than oneself—something (...) that plausible definitions of empathy seem to require. How then, can these terribly important conversations take place? I argue that philosophical and psychological work on intellectual humility can show us a way to empathize and have these conversations even when we can’t imagine ourselves as the other. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 32 In this paper we first set the stage with a brief overview of the tangled history of humility in theology and philosophy—beginning with its treatment in the Bible and ending with the more recent work that has been done in contemporary philosophy. Our two-fold goal at this early stage of the paper is to explore some of the different accounts of humility that have traditionally been developed and highlight some of the key debates (...) in the current literature. Next, we present the findings from several studies we recently conducted in an effort to explore people’s intuitions and beliefs about humility as well as their experiences with being humble. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our findings to the ongoing philosophical debates about humility—suggesting that while some varieties of humility are problematic, other varieties of humility are certainly worth wanting. (shrink)
This paper offers a novel, secular account of the virtue of humility. There are only two such accounts in recent philosophical literature: one defended by Julia Driver, the other by George Schueler. Driver attaches the virtue of humility to people who underestimate their merits, or lack beliefs about their merits altogether. Schueler thinks that humility requires indifference to how we are regarded vis-à-vis our accomplishments. This paper brings out the limitations of those accounts and constructs a new (...) one which is free of them. The new account derives directly from the under-appreciated approach defended a century ago by Hastings Rashdall, who developed a secular (albeit religiously-inspired) account of humility according to which true humility reflects love for one's neighbour. After indicating the flaws in Rashdall's approach, I develop an account based on his intuitions. Specifically, I argue that humility requires suppressing our egos when they lead us to neglect or disregard other duties. Humility comprises two dimensions: a private dimension, for when we uphold self-regarding duties rather than succumb to the temptations of ego; and a public dimension, for when we display fidelity to other-regarding duties at the expense of the pleasures of ego. (shrink)
This paper argues that several leading theories of subjunctive conditionals are incompatible with ordinary intuitions about what credences we ought to have in subjunctive conditionals. In short, our theory of subjunctives should intuitively display semantic humility, i.e. our semantic theory should deliver the truth conditions of sentences without pronouncing on whether those conditions actually obtain. In addition to describing intuitions about subjunctive conditionals, I argue that we can derive these ordinary intuitions from justified premises, and I answer a possible (...) worry for my derivation by refuting a subjunctive triviality result modeled on (Lewis 1976). I conclude that the debate over the correct theory of subjunctive conditionals requires settling meta-philosophical questions about the relative value of various virtues of first-order theories of subjunctive conditionals. (shrink)
The use of cognition-enhancing drugs (CEDs) appears to be increasingly common in both academic and workplace settings. But many universities and businesses have not yet engaged with the ethical challenges raised by CED use. This paper considers criticisms of CED use with a particular focus on the Accomplishment Argument: an influential set of claims holding that enhanced work is less dignified, valuable, or authentic, and that cognitive enhancement damages our characters. While the Accomplishment Argument assumes a view of authorship based (...) on individual credit-taking, an impersonal or collaborative view is just as possible. This paper considers the benefits of this view—including humility, a value often claimed by critics of enhancement—and argues that such a view is consistent with open CED use. It proposes an ethics of cognitive enhancement based on toleration, transparency, and humility, and it discusses how institutions and individuals can build a culture of open cognitive enhancement. (shrink)
A familiar point in the literature on the epistemology of disagreement is that in the face of disagreement with a recognised epistemic peer the epistemically virtuous agent should adopt a stance of intellectual humility. That is, the virtuous agent should take a conciliatory stance and reduce her commitment to the proposition under dispute. In this paper, we ask the question of how such intellectual humility would manifest itself in a corresponding peer disagreement regarding knowledge-how. We argue that while (...) it is relatively straightforward to recast this debate in terms of a reductive intellectualist account of knowledge-how, whereby knowledge-how just is a matter of having a particular propositional attitude, the issue becomes more complex once we turn to anti-intellectualist positions. On these views, after all, such a disagreement won’t be just a matter of disagreeing about the truth of a proposition. Accordingly, to the extent that some kind of conciliation is plausibly required of the virtuous agent in the face of a recognised peer disagreement, this conciliation will not consist simply in belief revision. We propose a novel way to address this problem. We claim that what is required of the epistemically virtuous agent when confronted with peer disagreement regarding knowing how to φ is that thereafter she should be disposed to employ her way of φ-ing across a narrower range of practical circumstances than beforehand. Moreover, just as an agent needs to call on her intellectual virtues in order to determine the extent of conciliation required in an ordinary case of epistemic peer disagreement, so the intellectual virtues will play an important role in determining this shift in dispositions to φ that occurs as regards epistemic peer disagreement about knowledge-how. (shrink)
I offer an account of the virtue of intellectual humility, construed as a pair of dispositions enabling proper management of one's intellectual confidence. I then show its integral role in a range of familiar educational practices and concerns, and finally describe how certain entrenched educational attitudes and conceptions marginalise or militate against the cultivation and exercise of this virtue.
In some circles, faith is said to be one of three theological virtues, along with hope and agape. But not everyone thinks faith is a virtue, theological or otherwise. Indeed, depending on how we understand it, faith may well conflict with the virtues. In this chapter we will focus on the virtue of humility. Does faith conflict with humility, or are they in concord? In what follows, we will do five things. First, we will sketch a theory of (...) the virtue of humility. Second, we will summarize a common view of faith, arguably held by Thomas Aquinas among others, and we will argue that Thomistic faith is not an intellectual virtue and that it conflicts with humility in the domain of inquiry. Third, we will plump for an older view of faith, one that predates Aquinas by at least 1500 years, Markan faith. Fourth, we will argue that Markan faith is an intellectual virtue and it is in concord with humility in the domain of inquiry. Fifth, we will argue that Markan faith, unlike Thomistic faith, is a personal virtue and that it is in concord with humility in the domain of personal relationships, both human-human and human-divine. (shrink)
I reject both (a) inevitabilism about the historical development of the sciences and (b) what Ian Hacking calls the "put up or shut up" argument against those who make contingentist claims. Each position is guilty of a lack of humility about our epistemic capacities.
Contemporary treatments of humility typically treat humility as a virtue that is reserved for the accomplished. I argue that paradigmatic humility can also be possessed by the deficient, and I provide an extended example of such humility. I further argue that attending to such a case helps us to appreciate the way in which the humble have released both the desire for superiority and the aversion to inferiority. Accordingly, when necessary, the humble will exhibit an extremely (...) low concern with their own status relative to that of others. (shrink)
As studies continue to accumulate on leader humility, it has become clear that humility in a leader is largely beneficial to his or her followers. While the majority of the empirical research on this topic has demonstrated the positive effects of leader humility, this study challenges that consensus by arguing that a leader’s humble behavior can have contradictory outcomes in followers’ voice behavior. Drawing on attachment theory, we develop a model which takes into account the ways in (...) which leader humility influences the seemingly contradictory voice behavior of followers, i.e., inducing challenging voice, and defensive voice depending on the followers’ sense of security as reflected by feeling trusted and self-efficacy for voice. The results of this empirical study confirm that leader humility influences followers’ voice in a contradictory way through their sense of security. (shrink)
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