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A New Theory of Stupidity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-580
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Early online date23 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2019

King's Authors


This article advances a new analysis of stupidity as a distinctive form of cognitive failing. Section 1 outlines some problems in explicating this notion and suggests some desiderata. Section 2 sketches an existing model of stupidity, found in Kant and Flaubert, which serves as a foil for my own view. In section 3, I introduce my theory: I analyse stupidity as form of conceptual self-hampering, characterised by a specific aetiology and with a range of deleterious effects. In section 4, I show how this proposal meets the desiderata and I clarify how it diverges from existing accounts. My position is close to a ‘public health approach’, in contrast to the virtue/vice framework employed by Engel or Mulligan.

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