Vices of the Mind: From the Intellectual to the Political

ISBN : 9780192897152

Quassim Cassam
224 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
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Leading philosopher Quassim Cassam introduces epistemic vices, drawing on recent political phenomena including Brexit and Trump to explore such 'vices of the mind'. Manifesting as character traits, attitudes, or thinking styles, epistemic vices prevent us from having or sharing knowledge. Cassam gives an account of the nature and importance of these vices, which include closed-mindedness, intellectual arrogance, wishful thinking, and prejudice. In providing the first extensive coverage of vice epistemology, an exciting new area of philosophical research, Vices of the Mind uses real examples drawn primarily from the world of politics to develop a compelling theory of epistemic vice. Key events such as the 2003 Iraq War and the 2016 Brexit vote, and notable figures including Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are analysed in detail to illustrate what epistemic vice looks like in the modern world. The traits covered in this landmark work include a hitherto unrecognised epistemic vice called 'epistemic insouciance'. Cassam examines both the extent to which we are responsible for our failings and the factors that make it difficult to know our own vices. If we are able to overcome self-ignorance and recognise our epistemic vices, then is there is anything we can do about them? Vices of the Mind picks up on this concern in its conclusion by detailing possible self-improvement strategies and closing with a discussion of what makes some epistemic vices resistant to change.


1 The Anatomy of Vice
2 A Question of Character
3 Vicious Thinking
4 Epistemic Postures
5 Vice and Knowledge
6 Vice and Responsibility
7 Stealthy Vices
8 Self-Improvement

About the author: 

Quassim Cassam is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick. He was previously Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, and has also taught at Oxford and UCL. He is the author of Self and World (OUP 1997), The Possibility of Knowledge (OUP 2007), Berkeley's Puzzle: What Does Experience Teach Us? (OUP 2014) with John Campbell, and Self-Knowledge for Humans (OUP 2014).

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