Recently, another article of mine on the virtue of open-mindedness was published, this one in Philosophia: Philosophical Quarterly of Israel. It is entitled “Contest and Indifference: Two Models of Open-Minded Inquiry.” The link takes you to (a read-only version of) the entire article. Here is the abstract:

While open-mindedness as an intellectual trait has been recognized for centuries, Western philosophers have not explicitly endorsed it as a virtue until recently. This acknowledgment has been roughly coincident with the rise of virtue epistemology. As with any virtue, it is important to inform contemporary discussion of open-mindedness with reflection on sources from the history of philosophy. Here I do just this. After reviewing two major accounts of open-mindedness, which I dub “Contest” and “Indifference,” I explore some ideas pertinent to the subject in four philosophers spanning eighteen centuries: Sextus Empiricus, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Paul Feyerabend. Despite their varying concerns and terminology, their contributions may valuably inform current reflection on the virtue of open-mindedness, whether construed in terms of the Contest or Indifference account.

This article is the product of research I did while a fellow at the Biola University Center for Christian Thought a couple of years ago. It is my third scholarly publication on open-mindedness (along with articles in Sophia and Theory and Research in Education). My long-term aim is to publish a monograph on the topic. It is certainly an area where such work is needed, both because there are very few book-length treatments of open-mindedness and because in the West, especially the United States, genuine open-mindedness is an endangered intellectual virtue. High-pitched, dogmatic and even abusive rhetoric seem to be carrying the day in our culture. We could benefit from a large dose of this intellectual virtue, in the form of either version of open-mindedness that I discuss in my piece—contest or indifference. I would prefer the former, but let’s take what we can get!

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)