08. Keynote on ‘Extremism, multidimensionalism, and myopia’ by Ian James Kidd

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08. Keynote on ‘Extremism, multidimensionalism, and myopia’ by Ian James Kidd

Date Published: 29 June 2023

Ian James Kidd’s keynote lecture on ‘Extremism, multidimensionalism, and myopia’ for the Extreme Beliefs Project at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Ian James Kidd is an assistant lecturer in philosophy at the University of Nottingham. His research interests include topics in social and character epistemology – especially epistemic virtues and vices in relation to social and political institutions. He co-edited Vice Epistemology, Epistemic Vices: From the Individual to the Collective and The Routledge Handbook to Epistemic Injustice. His website is www.ianjameskidd.weebly.com.

The main claim of this talk is that many explanations of terrorist beliefs are myopic. I start by endorsing Quassim Cassam’s claim that explanations of extreme beliefs should be multidimensional in the sense of employing different kinds of explanation. I then argue that the opposite is too often true. Explanations of extreme beliefs are often myopic insofar as they rely on shallow and/or narrow explanations of the origins, nature, persistence, functions, and attractions of extreme beliefs. I illustrate this claim using the example of ‘rational agency’ and ‘radicalisation’ models of terrorism. I end by suggesting that much myopia is motivated myopia and that this justifies a principle of cynicism.