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Vices of the MindFrom the Intellectual to the Political$
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Quassim Cassam

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198826903

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198826903.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

A Question of Character

A Question of Character

(p.28) 2 A Question of Character
Vices of the Mind

Quassim Cassam

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on epistemic vices that are character traits and, in particular, on the epistemic vice of closed-mindedness. The nature and significance of this epistemic vice is explained by reference of the failure of Israeli intelligence to anticipate the 1973 Yom Kippur surprise attack on Israel. Closed-mindedness is a high-fidelity epistemic vice, that is, one that requires a high degree of behavioural consistency. It is underpinned in many cases by a high need for closure and a low tolerance for ambiguity. Character accounts of epistemic vice are not undermined by situationism but they do need to acknowledge the insights of structuralism since flawed epistemic conduct can have structural as well as personal explanations.

Keywords:   closed-mindedness, closure, situationism, structuralism, surprise attack

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