In Defence of Open-mindedness


121 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-0580-6





Reviewed by Ashley Thomson

Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.


Most everyone thinks of him/herself as open-minded — that is, willing to “form and revise one’s views as impartially and objectively as possible in light of available evidence and argument” (p.3). But in this sequel to his Open Mindedness and Education (1979) Hare, a professor of education and philosophy at Dalhousie University, argues that, within the context of education, open-mindedness is under serious attack.

Consider, for example, the area of moral education, where many philosophers have argued, in effect, for closed-mindedness in certain areas of moral life. How, for example, could one be open-minded about the possibility of allowing police to torture their victims (p.30)? And yet Hare examines the arguments in favour of closed-mindedness, and surprisingly is able to dismiss them convincingly. Likewise in other educational areas such as elementary education, the teaching of science, and school administration.

Most of the book is based on previously published (or prepared) sources, and yet it stands together as an integrated and readable whole.

The book deserves to be read far more widely than in university courses in the philosophy of education; indeed, it is an important book that should be put in the hands of all citizens who believe themselves to be open-minded. They may well discover, as this reviewer did, that they are not.


Hare, William, “In Defence of Open-mindedness,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,