Is open-mindedness truth-conducive?

Synthese 196 (5):2075-2087 (2019)
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What makes an intellectual virtue a virtue? A straightforward and influential answer to this question has been given by virtue-reliabilists: a trait is a virtue only insofar as it is truth-conducive. In this paper I shall contend that recent arguments advanced by Jack Kwong in defence of the reliabilist view are good as far as they go, in that they advance the debate by usefully clarifying ways in how best to understand the nature of open-mindedness. But I shall argue that these considerations do not establish the desired conclusions that open-mindedness is truth-conducive. To establish these much stronger conclusions we would need an adequate reply to what I shall call Montmarquet’s objection. I argue that Linda Zagzebski’s reply to Montmarquet’s objection, to which Kwong defers, is inadequate. I conclude that it is contingent if open-mindedness is truth-conducive, and if a necessary tie to truth is what makes an intellectual virtue a virtue, then the status of open-mindedness as an intellectual virtue is jeopardised. We either need an adequate reliabilist response to Montmarquet’s objection, or else seek alternative accounts of what it is that makes a virtue a virtue. I conclude by briefly outlining some alternatives.

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B. J. C. Madison
United Arab Emirates University


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