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Fr. 780

May 14, 2017

If persons often demonstrate, wittingly or unwittingly, an interest in giving false testimony, in portraying the unacceptable as acceptable and that intertwining of self-interest with belief-formation occurs below the level of conscious awareness, the insidiousness of self-interest seems due, in some sense, to failings in self-knowledge. Building on Ryan Tafilowski’s brief inventory of pro-slaver reason-giving (Ross, Calhoun), one might then see pro-slavery rationalization as following, at least in part, from self-opaque cognitive failings. My question then is what means one has for countering just those kinds of failings when the person resists reasons, argument or rhetoric to that effect. If one thinks that the virtue of piety (understand as a kind of taking stock of the sources on which one depends for one’s existence) may help to counteract such failings, one may nonetheless find it insufficient for the task at hand. Certainly, one cannot set self-knowledge as an entry requirement to public discourse for any number of practical and principled reasons. What then remains?

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