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Ridenour to Discuss “Epistemic Virtues” During Philosophy Forum Oct. 9

October 8, 2020

The philosophy department at OBU’s Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry will host the second Philosophy Forum of the academic year Friday, Oct. 9. The forum will take place at 4 p.m. in Stavros Hall, room 214.

The forum will feature a lecture from Dr. Randy Ridenour, professor of philosophy. He joined the OBU faculty in 2000. He earned a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D, all from the University of Oklahoma. Before completing his degrees, he was an infantry soldier, who later served as a chaplain’s assistant before being commissioned as a chaplain with the Army Reserve. He has presented papers at philosophy conferences and meetings around the country and serves as a supply preacher in churches around the state.

Ridenour will be speaking on the topic of “Epistemic Virtues.”

“During the forum, I will explain the problem that faces epistemology, and why the focus on the epistemic virtues is the solution to the problem,” Ridenour said. “I'll quickly cover nine or ten different examples of epistemic virtues, then focus on open-mindedness and intellectual courage. Both of these are important virtues when understood in the right way. When understood wrongly, the results can be epistemically disastrous. For example, is there such a thing as being too open-minded? Does intellectual courage require standing up for your beliefs, no matter what? If so, then how is it compatible with being open-minded?”

The epistemic virtues include intellectual humility, intellectual tenacity, carefulness, thoroughness, objectivity, honesty and more. These virtues are important because they are the attributes of people who gain truth, understanding and wisdom.

“We are living in a time when the virtues, both moral and epistemic, seem rare,” he said. “The tendency is for people to not listen, to not think carefully and to not genuinely consider anything that conflicts with their own ideologies. There are unfortunate consequences to this lack of epistemic virtue. The first is the loss of the opportunity to grow in wisdom and understanding. The second is damage to the democratic process, for what reason is there for cooperating with me if I will not genuinely consider your concerns? Finally, it harms our witness as Christians as we cannot respond to what we do not understand. These are just some of the reasons why the epistemic virtues are critically important for our time.”

Philosophy Forums are designed to spark interest in and engagement with philosophical topics and issues that have broader rational and practical implications. For the academic year 2020-21, the Philosophy Forum series will focus on “the virtues,” excellences that disciples of Jesus Christ should be striving to cultivate in their personal and public lives.

The final Philosophy Forum of the fall semester will take place Friday, Nov. 6, at 4 p.m. in the Craig-Dorland Theatre inside Shawnee Hall. This event will feature a faculty lecture by Dr. Tawa Anderson, associate professor of philosophy, discussing, “The Quest for a Satisfied Insignificance.”