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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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(p.167) 8 Self-Improvement
Vices of the Mind

Quassim Cassam

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues for a qualified optimism about self-improvement, that is, for the view that self-improvement in respect of our epistemic vices is sometimes possible and that there is something we can do about our epistemic vices, including our implicit biases. It is possible for us to tackle our character vices as long as we know we have them, are motivated to tackle them, and are willing and able to make the necessary effort of self-control. Some of our epistemic vices are resistant to self-improvement strategies because they deprive us of the motivation to do anything about them. Such vices are resistant vices. Epistemic vices that can’t be eliminated can sometimes be bypassed or outsmarted, but self-ignorance and lack of motivation can limit the effectiveness of outsmarting strategies just as effectively as they can limit the effectiveness of vice-reduction strategies.

Keywords:   self-improvement, implicit biases, self-control, resistant vices, outsmarting, vice-reduction

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