Do computer simulations support the Argument from Disagreement?

Synthese 190 (8):1437-1454 (2013)
According to the Argument from Disagreement (AD) widespread and persistent disagreement on ethical issues indicates that our moral opinions are not influenced by moral facts, either because there are no such facts or because there are such facts but they fail to influence our moral opinions. In an innovative paper, Gustafsson and Peterson (Synthese, published online 16 October, 2010) study the argument by means of computer simulation of opinion dynamics, relying on the well-known model of Hegselmann and Krause (J Artif Soc Soc Simul 5(3):1–33, 2002; J Artif Soc Soc Simul 9(3):1–28, 2006). Their simulations indicate that if our moral opinions were influenced at least slightly by moral facts, we would quickly have reached consensus, even if our moral opinions were also affected by additional factors such as false authorities, external political shifts and random processes. Gustafsson and Peterson conclude that since no such consensus has been reached in real life, the simulation gives us increased reason to take seriously the AD. Our main claim in this paper is that these results are not as robust as Gustafsson and Peterson seem to think they are. If we run similar simulations in the alternative Laputa simulation environment developed by Angere and Olsson (Angere, Synthese, forthcoming and Olsson, Episteme 8(2):127–143, 2011) considerably less support for the AD is forthcoming
Keywords Argument from Disagreement  Computer simulation  Formal epistemology  Bayesianism  Probability  Trust
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-012-0107-x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,658
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Richard Boyd (1988). How to Be a Moral Realist. In G. Sayre-McCord (ed.), Essays on Moral Realism. Cornell University Press 181-228.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Claus Beisbart (2012). How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge? European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.
By Nick Bostrom (2003). Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):243–255.
Ulrich Krohs (2008). How Digital Computer Simulations Explain Real-World Processes. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (3):277 – 292.
David Killoren (2010). Moral Intuitions, Reliability and Disagreement. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 4 (1):1-35.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

63 ( #54,147 of 1,725,989 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #84,767 of 1,725,989 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.