, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 143–158 | Cite as

Open-mindedness and Religious Devotion

  • James S. SpiegelEmail author


To be open-minded is to be willing to revise or entertain doubts about one’s beliefs. Commonly regarded as an intellectual virtue, and often too as a moral virtue, open-mindedness is a trait that is generally desirable for a person to have. However, in the major theistic traditions, absolute commitment to one’s religious beliefs is regarded as virtuous or ideal. But one cannot be completely resolved about an issue and at the same time be open to revising one’s beliefs about it. It appears, then, that religious devotion is inconsistent with open-mindedness. The more religiously devout a person is, the more firmly she will hold to her convictions. And the stronger her belief commitments, the less open-minded she will be regarding these beliefs. So there appears to be a paradox here, where from the standpoint of religious devotion, it is virtuous to display an intellectual vice, namely closed-mindedness. I discuss this problem and explore some potential routes of escape from the paradox.


Open-minded Humility Virtue Devotion Descartes Kierkegaard 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Taylor UniversityUplandUSA

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