Character, Vices, and Authority

Heather Battaly and Ian James Kidd with Casey Johnson

When trying to make sense of the world, we rely on other people – for information, ideas, alternative perspectives, criticisms, and objections. We therefore need to be able to recognise authoritative people, ones worthy of the trust we put in them when we ask for intellectual help. But how do we identify authoritative people? 

One answer: we assess their intellectual virtues and vices. We ask if someone is reflective and open-minded, or dogmatic and closed-minded. This conversation will explore the intellectual vices, what they are, where they come from, and how we should try and deal with intellectually vicious people.

Heather Battaly is professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut. She specializes in epistemology, ethics, and virtue theory. She is one of the leading researchers in the world on the concept of intellectual humility, and is a pioneer on the topic of epistemic vice. Along with Ian James Kidd and Quassim Cassam, Battaly edited the recent collection Vice Epistemology.

Ian James Kidd is assistant professor of philosophy at University of Nottingham. His research interests range from epistemic virtue and vice in education, moral and spiritual exemplarity in ancient Indian and Chinese philosophy, and the philosophical significance of illness. He is currently working on a book about misanthropy. ianjameskidd.weebly.com 

Casey Johnson is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Idaho. Her research brings considerations of social position and social power to bear on traditional questions in philosophy of language and epistemology. Her latest research interests include epistemic labour, disagreement, and epistemic and communicative injustice.


Thursday 13th May

7.00 p.m. (UK time)/2.00 p.m. (EST)

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Published since 1923