Uniqueness, Evidence, and Rationality

Philosophers' Imprint 11 (18) (2011)
Abstract
Two theses figure centrally in work on the epistemology of disagreement: Equal Weight (‘EW’) and Uniqueness (‘U’). According to EW, you should give precisely as much weight to the attitude of a disagreeing epistemic peer as you give to your own attitude. U has it that, for any given proposition and total body of evidence, some doxastic attitude is the one the evidence makes rational (justifies) toward that proposition. Although EW has received considerable discussion, the case for U has not been critically evaluated. Endorsing U, we argue, commits one to the highly controversial thesis that whatever fixes your rational attitudes can do so only by fixing what evidence you have. This commitment imposes a relatively demanding requirement on justified belief in U, one that we argue is not satisfied by what is currently the strongest available case for U, due to Roger White [2005]. Our challenge to U makes more trouble for its proponents than do the worries about U expressed by Gideon Rosen [2001] and Thomas Kelly [2010]. Moreover, if Kelly [2010] is correct in thinking that EW “carries with it a commitment to” U—a claim which we accept for reasons similar to Kelly’s but is beyond this paper’s scope (but see Ballantyne and Coffman [forthcoming])—then our challenge to U bears importantly on EW: to the extent that our challenge to U succeeds, EW also suffers
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    Nathan Ballantyne & E. J. Coffman (2012). Conciliationism and Uniqueness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4):657-670.
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