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There is a tendency in philosophical discussions to see beliefs as belonging to specific people—to see things in terms of “your” belief, or “my” belief, or “Smith's” belief. I call this “personal attachment to beliefs.” This mindset is unconscious, deeply ingrained, and a powerful background stance in discussion and thinking. Attachment has a negative impact on the quality of philosophical discussion and learning: difficulties in acknowledging error and changing beliefs, blindness to new evidence, difficulties in understanding new ideas, entrenchment in views, rancorous behavior, and the encouragement of competitive personal contests rather than collaborative searches for the truth. This article investigates the nature of attachment and traces out some of the undesirable consequences for classroom philosophical discussion, thinking, writing, and learning. It presents an alternative model to attachment and offers constructive suggestions for implementing the results of the investigation in the philosophy classroom and elsewhere.

Keywords: attachment; critical thinking; debate; dialogue; open-mindedness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Lane Community College, 4000 E. 30th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97405, USA, Email:

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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