Dr. Jack Kwong

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

10. "What is Hope?", European Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)

Abstract According to the standard account, to hope for an outcome is to desire it and to believe that its realization is possible, though not inevitable. This account, however, faces certain difficulties: It cannot explain how people can display differing strengths in hope; it cannot distinguish hope from despair; and it cannot explain substantial hopes. This paper proposes an account of hope that can meet these deficiencies. Briefly, it argues that in addition to possessing the relevant belief-desire structure as allowed in the standard account, a hopeful person must also be able to see a way in which the desired outcome can come about, and to see such a way to the outcome as a genuine possibility.

9. "Is Open-Mindedness a Moral Virtue?" (with Anna Cremaldi), (2017) Ratio, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 343-358.

Abstract Is open-mindedness a moral virtue? Surprisingly, this question has not received much attention from philosophers. In this paper, we fill this lacuna by arguing that there are good grounds for thinking that it is. In particular, we show that the extant account of open-mindedness as a moral virtue faces an objection that appears to show that exercising the character trait may not be virtuous. To offset this objection, we argue that a much stronger argument can be made for the case that open-mindedness is a moral virtue by appealing to the notion of moral understanding. Specifically, we provide a new rationale as to why we should exercise open-mindedness and offer several arguments to allay the concern that doing so can at times cause us to be in an epistemically and morally weaker position.

8. "Is Open-Mindedness Conducive to Truth?", (2017) Synthese, vol. 194, no. 5, pp. 1613-1626.

Abstract Open-mindedness is generally regarded as an intellectual virtue because its exercise reliably leads to truth. However, some theorists have argued that open-mindedness’s truth-conduciveness is highly contingent, pointing out that it is either not truth-conducive at all under certain scenarios or no better than dogmatism or credulity in others. Given such shaky ties to truth, it would appear that the status of open-mindedness as an intellectual virtue is in jeopardy. In this paper, I propose to defend open-mindedness against these challenges. In particular, I show that the challenges are ill-founded because they misconstrue the nature of open-mindedness and fail to consider the requisite conditions of its application. With a proper understanding of open-mindedness and of its requirements, it is clear that recourse to it is indeed truth-conducive.

7. "Open-Mindedness as a Critical Virtue" (2016) Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy, vol. 35, no. 2, pp 403–411.

Abstract This paper proposes to examine Daniel Cohen’s recent attempt to apply virtues to argumentation theory, with special attention given to his explication of how open-mindedness can be regarded as an argumentational or critical virtue. It is argued that his analysis involves a contentious claim about open-mindedness as an epistemic virtue, which generates a tension for agents who are simultaneously both an arguer and a knower (or who strive to be both). I contend that this tension can be eased or resolved by clarifying the nature of open-mindedness and by construing open-mindedness in terms of its function. Specifically, a willingness to take a novel viewpoint seriously is sufficient for making open-mindedness both an epistemic and a critical virtue.

6. "Open-Mindedness as Engagement" (2016) The Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 70-86.

Abstract Open‐mindedness is an under‐explored topic in virtue epistemology, despite its assumed importance for the field. Questions about it abound and need to be answered. For example, what sort of intellectual activities are central to it? Can one be open‐minded about one's firmly held beliefs? Why should we strive to be open‐minded? This paper aims to shed light on these and other pertinent issues. In particular, it proposes a view that construes open‐mindedness as engagement, that is, a willingness to entertain novel ideas in one's cognitive space and to accord them serious consideration.

5. “Epistemic Injustice and Open-Mindedness” (2015) Hypatia, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 337-351.

Abstract In this paper, I argue that recent discussions of culprit‐based epistemic injustices can be framed around the intellectual character virtue of open‐mindedness. In particular, these injustices occur because the people who commit them are closed‐minded in some respect; the injustices can therefore be remedied through the cultivation of the virtue of open‐mindedness. Describing epistemic injustices this way has two explanatory benefits: it yields a more parsimonious account of the phenomenon of epistemic injustice and it provides the underpinning of a virtue‐theoretical structure by which to explain what it is that perpetrators are culpable for and how virtues can have normative explanatory power.

4. “Why Concepts Should Not be Pluralized or Eliminated” (2014) Polish Journal of Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 7-23.

Abstract Concept Pluralism and Concept Eliminativism are two positions recently proposed in the philosophy and the psychology of concepts. Both of these theories are motivated by the view that all current theories of concepts are empirically and methodologically inadequate and hold in common the assumption that for any category that can be represented in thought, a person can possess multiple, distinct concepts of it. In this paper, I will challenge these in light of a third theory, Conceptual Atomism, which addresses and dispels the contentious issues. In particular, I contend that Conceptual Atomism, when properly understood, is empirically adequate and can overcome difficulties that plague Pluralism and Eliminativism.

3. “Resisting Aliefs: Gendler on Belief-Discordant Behaviors” (2012) Philosophical Psychology, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 77-91.

Abstract This paper challenges T. S. Gendler's notion of aliefs, a novel kind of mental state which she introduces to explain a wide variety of belief-discordant behaviors. In particular, I argue that many of the cases which she uses to motivate such a mental state can be fully explained by accounts that make use only of commonplace attitudes such as beliefs and desires.

2. “Is Conceptual Atomism a Plausible Theory of Concepts?” (2007) The Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. xlv, pp. 413-34.

Abstract Conceptual atomism is the view according to which most lexical concepts lack 'internal' or constituent structure. To date, it has not received much attention from philosophers and psychologists. A central reason is that it is thought to be an implausible theory of concepts, resulting in untenable implications. The main objective of this paper is to present conceptual atomism as a viable alternative, with a view to achieving two aims: the first, to characterize and to elucidate conceptual atomism; and the second, to dispel some misconceptions associated with it. My aim is to show that the prospect of conceptual atomism is a promising one.

1. "Why Concepts Can't Be Theories" (2006) Philosophical Explorations, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 309-325.

Abstract In this paper, I present an alternative argument for Jerry Fodor's recent conclusion that there are currently no tenable theories of concepts in the cognitive sciences and in the philosophy of mind. Briefly, my approach focuses on the 'theory-theory' of concepts. I argue that the two ways in which cognitive psychologists have formulated this theory lead to serious difficulties, and that there cannot be, in principle, a third way in which it can be reformulated. Insofar as the 'theory-theory' is supposed to replace, and to rectify the problems of, the earlier 'classical' and 'probabilistic' theories, its failure confirms Fodor's original observation. Since my critique does not rest on controversial philosophical assumptions and is readily available from within the cognitive sciences, it is a stronger argument than Fodor's.

Book Reviews
4. Review of New Perspectives on Concepts (2012) Philosophy in Review, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 37-39.
3. Review of Doing Without Concepts (2010) Philosophy in Review, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 115-17.
2. Review of The Harder Problem (2008) Philosophy in Review, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 257-60.
1. Review of New Essays in Philosophy of Language and Mind (2007) University of Toronto Quarterly, Winter, vol. 76, no. 1, pp. 301-302.

Other Academic Writings
1. “Taking a Look at Ian Hacking” (2005) Idea&s: the arts & science review, Fall, pp. 22-23.