Virtues of Discourse: The Notre Dame Pledge

As a member of the University dedicated to Our Lady, whose son said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” I embrace the obligation to seek and speak truth. I therefore pledge to practice, to the best of my ability, the following virtues when engaging in political, social, cultural, or religious dialogues. I especially commit to practicing these virtues in my exchanges with those whose views and values differ from my own. 

Honesty—I will make arguments based on what I understand to be the truth of the case, consistent with my own experience of it, and I will avoid deception, distortion and equivocation. 

Knowledge—When engaging in public or private argument, I will endeavor to grasp to the fullest extent possible the issues of the case and others’ perspectives on them, and will refrain from making arguments about matters on which I am not yet sufficiently informed. 

Accountability—I will support the claims I make with good reasons, or evidence, that can be checked and tested. 

Generosity—I will listen carefully, thoughtfully, and respectfully to the other side in an argument. I will consider how my own biases may inhibit me from appreciating viewpoints contrary to my own. I will endeavor to ensure that I understand others’ meanings and intentions before I argue against them. 

Humility—I will always consider the possibility that I might be wrong. When I realize that I have been wrong, I will readily acknowledge it. 

Courage—When called for, I will speak clearly and forcefully for ideas that may be unpopular or even reviled. I will persist in speaking for my beliefs even when mine is a minority voice. 

Judgment—I will work to develop the wisdom to know which virtues apply in which situations, and how my arguments may ultimately contribute to the common good. 

Take the pledge

The Notre Dame Pledge for Virtuous Discourse was written by John Duffy, Associate Professor of English, English Department and the Francis O'Malley Director, University Writing Program.