Tag Archives: Quassim Cassam

Intellectual virtues

We’ve been on a long hiatus working on academic projects.  To get us rolling again, here’s a post about intellectual virtues that’s worth a read.

Here’s a sample paragraph:

I want to argue for something which is controversial, although I believe that it is also intuitive and commonsensical. My claim is this: Oliver believes what he does because that is the kind of thinker he is or, to put it more bluntly, because there is something wrong with how he thinks. The problem with conspiracy theorists is not, as the US legal scholar Cass Sunstein argues, that they have little relevant information. The key to what they end up believing is how they interpret and respond to the vast quantities of relevant information at their disposal. I want to suggest that this is fundamentally a question of the way they are. Oliver isn’t mad (or at least, he needn’t be). Nevertheless, his beliefs about 9/11 are the result of the peculiarities of his intellectual constitution – in a word, of his intellectual character.

Happily, Scott and I recently published an article taking a virtues approach to straw manning.   TL;DR: it’s not virtuous to straw man (most of the time).