Areas of Expertise (10)
Philosophy of the Mind
Philosophy of Terrorism
Philosophy of General Practice
2016 - Leadership Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council
University of Oxford: Ph.D., Philosophy 1985
University of Oxford: B. Phil, Philosophy 1982
Selected Media Appearances (4)
How conspiracy theories went mainstream
ABC News online
Conspiracy theories like the ones about 9/11, Sandy Hook and climate change have a political agenda and should not be ignored argues philosopher Quassim Cassam. But dismantling them is no easy task...
Lies, bullsh*t and knowledge resistance: A spotter’s guide
The Irish Times
The latest slew of publications includes Knowledge Resistance: How We Avoid Insight from Others by sociologist Mikael Klintman; Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason by Justin EH Smith; and Vices of the Mind by prominent political philosopher Quassim Cassam. They all contribute to a field of study popularised in recent times by authors like Daniel Kahneman and Jonathan Haidt – the study of why humans think and behave in an unreasoned, or downright stupid, fashion.
Why our political leaders make terrible decisions
New Statesman America online
The perceived rise in “fake news” over the past few years is often discussed as though it were a natural phenomenon, like an increase in the frequency of earthquakes. Commentators have focused primarily on how the consumers of fake news might arm themselves against it. But what if the thing that really needs to change is the way the masters of disinformation think? The philosopher Quassim Cassam introduces his tightly argued book with the question of how the architects of the Iraq War convinced themselves that it would be such a triumph, and his answer is that they were personally, and culpably, defective in reason: they suffered from “vices of the mind”, which include “arrogance, imperviousness to evidence, and an inability to deal with mistakes”. These he defines as “epistemic vices”, because they are to do with one’s attitude to acquiring and maintaining knowledge...
Intellectual vices, from Brexit to the Birmingham Six
The Irish Times online
The Leave campaign was unconcerned about truth but Remainers showed ‘naivety and arrogance’, says philosopher Quassim Cassam...
Selected Event Appearances (1)
Symposium on Self-Knowledge for Humans
American Philosophical Association Annual Conference Vancouver
Selected Articles (2)
A a press conference after the U. S invasion of Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was questioned about the scenes of chaos and looting in Baghdad. “Stuff happens” was his response to indications that things weren’t exactly going according to plan. As events unfolded it was becoming increasingly clear that the architects of the invasion – Rumsfeld, President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz- had seriously underestimated the potential for an Iraqi insurgency and the troop numbers needed to contain it.
Within hours of the disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein being found dead in his cell in August, Donald Trump was retweeting a conspiracy theory about his death. Epstein hanged himself but the original tweet by the right-wing comedian Terrence K Williams implied that the Clintons had somehow been involved in his demise. Unsurprisingly, neither Williams nor Trump produced any actual evidence in support of this suggestion.
A conspiracy theory isn’t a theory like any other. The official account of the 11 September 2001 attacks is a theory about a conspiracy – an al-Qaeda conspiracy – but not a conspiracy theory. What are called “conspiracy theories” subvert received opinion and are based on the idea that things aren’t as they seem. The official account of 9/11 and the theory that the attacks were planned by the Bush administration are both theories about conspiracies but only the latter is a conspiracy theory.