Hanlon’s Razor

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 45:309-331 (2021)
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“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”—so says Hanlon’s Razor. This principle is designed to curb the human tendency toward explaining other people’s behavior by moralizing it. We ask whether Hanlon’s Razor is good or bad advice. After offering a nuanced interpretation of the principle, we critically evaluate two strategies purporting to show it is good advice. Our discussion highlights important, unsettled questions about an idea that has the potential to infuse greater humility and civility into discourse and debate.

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Nathan Ballantyne
Arizona State University


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