Getting Our Minds Out of the Gutter: Fallacies that Foul Our Discourse (and Virtues that Clean it Up)

In Michael W. Austin (ed.), Virtues in Action: New Essays in Applied Virtue Ethics. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 190-206 (2013)
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Contemporary discourse is littered with nasty and derailed disagreements. In this paper we hope to help clean things up. We diagnose two patterns of thought that often plague and exacerbate controversy. We illustrate these patterns and show that each involves both a logical mistake and a failure of intellectual charity. We also draw upon recent work in social psychology to shed light on why we tend to fall into these patterns of thought. We conclude by suggesting how the intellectual virtues can militate against these fallacies, focusing on the virtues of charity and humility.



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