Oct. 16, 2020

Dr. Jeremy Fantl addresses open-mindedness at upcoming public lecture

Calgary Public Library presents “Philosophy Now: Do We Always Have to Engage with the Other Side?” on October 21, 2020

The Calgary Public Library (CPL) has partnered with the Department of Philosophy to present the online public lecture “Philosophy Now: Do We Always Have to Engage with the Other Side?” with Dr. Jeremy Fantl on October 21, 2020 (7-8:00 p.m.).

The talk will address the main argument of his book The Limitations of the Open Mind (Oxford University Press, 2018). When is it permissible not to engage with arguments on the other side of controversial issues? Can you know that you are right about controversial matters? What is open-mindedness, and is it always a virtue? In his talk, Fantl will suggest that “being closed-minded is not automatically a failing, but sometimes intellectually required.”

Fantl’s earlier work considers how knowledge relates to action and “whether knowing something allows you to take it for granted when deciding what to do.” He thinks it does, and that “whether you know something can depend on how important it is for you to be right about it.” If the stakes are really high, it can be harder to know something which, based on the evidence you have, you would know in a low-stakes situation. For example, you might be able to know that a dish is peanut-free if the person you’re serving it to isn’t allergic to peanuts, but not be able to know this if the person you’re serving IS allergic to peanuts. The stakes are higher.

Consider how Fantl’s lecture, concerning the virtues (or lack thereof) of open-mindedness, might relate to your current life circumstances. Can you think of an example during this pandemic where you can know you are right about a controversial matter, where being open-minded and engaging with opposing arguments is not necessarily a virtue?

Intrigued and wanting to learn more? Register for the Calgary Public Library’s October 21st Philosophy Now public lecture – spots are limited!