How Skeptical is the Equal Weight View?

In Diego Machuca (ed.), Disagreement and Skepticism. Routledge. pp. 131-149 (2013)
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Much of the literature on the epistemology of disagreement focuses on the rational responses to disagreement, and to disagreement with an epistemic peer in particular. The Equal Weight View claims that in cases of peer disagreement each dissenting peer opinion is to be given equal weight and, in a case of two opposing equally-weighted opinions, each party should adopt the attitude which ‘splits the difference’. The Equal Weight View has been taken by both its critics and its proponents to have quite drastic skeptical ramifications given contingent empirical facts that we are aware of regarding disagreements in philosophy, religion, science, and politics. In this paper,we begin by clarifying the central claims of the Equal Weight View (Section 2) and then examine two routes from the Equal Weight View to skepticism about such matters that have been explored in the literature. The first claims that our awareness of peers or experts who disagree with us about such issues requires that we abandon our beliefs on these issues (Section 3). The second claims that our awareness of merely possible peers or experts who disagree with us requires us to abandon our beliefs (Section 4). We find both routes from the Equal Weight View to a form of skepticism defective. However, there are nearby considerations, explored in Sections 5 and 6,which (for better or worse) do lead to at least some skeptical consequences for the Equal WeightView, albeit for different reasons.



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Author Profiles

Brandon Carey
California State University, Sacramento
Jonathan Matheson
University of North Florida

Citations of this work

Disagreement.Jonathan Matheson & Bryan Frances - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On Behalf of Controversial View Agnosticism.J. Adam Carter - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):1358-1370.
Disagreement and Epistemic Peers.Jonathan Matheson - 2015 - Oxford Handbooks Online.
Disagreement: Idealized and Everyday.Jonathan Matheson - 2014 - In Jonathan Matheson Rico Vitz (ed.), The Ethics of Belief: Individual and Social. Oxford University Press. pp. 315-330.

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Epistemology of Disagreement: The Good News.David Christensen - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):187-217.
Reflection and Disagreement.Adam Elga - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):478–502.
Peer Disagreement and Higher Order Evidence.Thomas Kelly - 2010 - In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press. pp. 183--217.
Epistemological Puzzles About Disagreement.Richard Feldman - 2006 - In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), Epistemology Futures. Oxford University Press. pp. 216-236.

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