Today, The New York Times captured an argument among conservatives as to whether or not they're having enough arguments.
The outrage has stemmed from a series of blog posts from libertarian Cato Institute Research Fellow, Julian Sanchez (you can read a couple of those posts here and here), who says conservatives are suffering from "epistemic closure."
What's epistemic closure and why has it gotten so many conservatives up in arms?
The phrase is being used as shorthand by some prominent conservatives for a kind of closed-mindedness in the movement, a development they see as debasing modern conservatism’s proud intellectual history.
Some of the conservative responses in the NYT piece are predictable (Jonah Goldberg wants to deflect the argument toward liberals and Richard Lowry insists everything's just fine).
One of the more critical views came from Bruce Bartlett, who may be one of the casualties of epistemic closure after having been let go from the National Center for Policy Analysis for being critical of the George W. Bush administration:
“Every intellectual movement needs to constantly question itself; otherwise it becomes stale. But conservatives have sort of reached a position of intellectual closure. They don’t think there are any new ideas of particular interest to them. Their philosophy is fully formed. The only question is how best to implement conservative ideas in the political debate.”
David Frum is another prominent conservative figure who shares Bartlett's views and, coincidentally, was released from his duties at the American Enterprise Institute when his criticism crossed the line. But it may well be the case that Julian Sanchez, firmly in the libertarian camp at Cato, is out of striking distance while still being able to push the buttons of conservatives.
h/t: Laura Rozen