Not Just a Truthometer: Taking Oneself Seriously (but not Too Seriously) in Cases of Peer Disagreement

Mind 119 (476):953 - 997 (2010)
Abstract
How should you update your (degrees of) belief about a proposition when you find out that someone else — as reliable as you are in these matters — disagrees with you about its truth value? There are now several different answers to this question — the question of `peer disagreement' — in the literature, but none, I think, is plausible. Even more importantly, none of the answers in the literature places the peer-disagreement debate in its natural place among the most general traditional concerns of normative epistemology. In this paper I try to do better. I start by emphasizing how we cannot and should not treat ourselves as `truthometers' — merely devices with a certain probability of tracking the truth. I argue that the truthometer view is the main motivation for the Equal Weight View in the context of peer disagreement. With this fact in mind, the discussion of peer disagreement becomes more complicated, sensitive to the justification of the relevant background degrees of belief (including the conditional ones), and to some of the most general points that arise in the context of discussions of scepticism. I argue that thus understood, peer disagreement is less special as an epistemic phenomenon than may be thought, and so that there is very little by way of positive theory that we can give about peer disagreement in general
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