Tragic Flaws

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (1):20-40 (2022)
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In many tragic plays, the protagonist is brought down by a disaster that is a consequence of the protagonist's own error, his or her hamartia, the tragic flaw. Tragic flaws are disconcerting to the audience because they are not known or fully recognized by the protagonist—at least not until it is too late. In this essay, I take tragic flaws to be unreliable belief-forming dispositions that are unrecognized by us in some sense. I describe some different types of flaws and consider what we might do about them. Then I examine three types of policies for managing our tragic flaws: doxastic, dispositional, and methodological.

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Nathan Ballantyne
Arizona State University


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