Undermining, circularity, and disagreement

Synthese 190 (3):563-584 (2013)
Abstract
Sometimes we get what seem to be good reasons for believing that we’ve misevaluated our evidence for a proposition P. In those cases, can we use our evidence for P itself to show that we haven’t misevaluated our evidence for P? I show why doing so appears to employ viciously circular reasoning. However, I then argue that this appearance is illusory in certain cases and that we sometimes can legitimately reason in that way. This claim sheds new light on the nature of epistemic undermining and epistemic circularity. In addition, it has implications for the current debate about the epistemic significance of disagreement. An important and influential position in that debate says that disagreement with others dramatically undermines our justification for a wide range of our opinions (e.g., political, religious, moral, economic, and philosophical opinions). My view on undermining and circularity implies that this position on disagreement rests on a mistake.
Keywords Undermining  Defeaters  Higher-order evidence  Epistemic circularity  Easy knowledge  Bootstrapping  Disagreement  Conciliationism  Epistemic justification  Evidence  Epistemology
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References found in this work BETA
William P. Alston (1986). Epistemic Circularity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (1):1-30.
Michael Bergmann (2005). Defeaters and Higher-Level Requirements. Philosophical Quarterly 55 (220):419–436.
Michael Bergmann (2004). Epistemic Circularity: Malignant and Benign. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (3):709–727.
Tyler Burge (2003). Perceptual Entitlement. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (3):503-48.

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