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In this chapter, we shall look at the psychological and biological underpinnings of the state of critical open-mindedness. When we think about what the state of critical open-mindedness entails — being able to rationally shift between different perspectives — there are several well-known psychological functions which immediately spring to mind as being necessary for this to occur. The initial list would include working memory, theory of mind, and logical reasoning. We should also add awareness of our own fallibility and a willingness to revise our theories (reflective corrigibility). Working memory is the ability to hold multiple pieces of information in mind and to manipulate them. Theory of mind refers to the understanding of mental states and being able to attribute mental states to others in order to explain and predict their behaviour. These processes are obviously dependent in part on our brains, so part of the story of what underpins critical open-mindedness is the evolution of brains capable of supporting these cognitive functions that in turn support critical open-mindedness.

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© 2014 John Lambie

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Lambie, J. (2014). Psychological and Biological Roots of Open-Mindedness. In: How to be Critically Open-Minded — A Psychological and Historical Analysis. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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