Shallow cognizing is a familiar but overlooked practice of self-control, typically initiated without conscious intention, that enables us to short-circuit potential upwellings of emotion and desire in ourselves. We will consider the range of contexts in which the practice is manifest, speculate about its roots in the compartmentalized structure of our cognitive systems, ponder its benefits and costs (its uses and misuses), and contemplate its relation to virtue. We will then continue in this exploratory vein by asking whether taking account of this neglected phenomenon might improve our understanding of issues in practical ethics, such as duties of doctors to obtain informed consent from patients, and how to balance free expression with proper care for others' sensibilities, in the classroom and perhaps elsewhere.
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