Disagreement about Disagreement? What Disagreement about Disagreement?

Authors
Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Abstract
Disagreement is a hot topic in epistemology. A fast-growing literature centers around a dispute between the ‘steadfast’ view, on which one may maintain one’s beliefs even in the light of disagreement with epistemic peers who have all the same evidence, and the ‘conciliationist’ view, on which such disagreement requires a revision of attitudes. In this paper, however, I argue that there is less separating the main rivals in the debate about peer disagreement than is commonly thought. The extreme versions of both views are clearly indefensible, while more moderate versions of the views converge on the idea that how much revision of belief is called for by an instance of peer disagreement varies from case to case. Those tempted by this diagnosis are sometimes pessimistic about the prospects for giving a unified account which clearly predicts when more or less extensive revisions will be called for. By contrast, in this paper I give an account that aspires to such unity and predictive power, centering on the notion of the net resilience of your estimate of your own reliability against your estimate of your interlocutor’s reliability. The view I present thus amounts to a new, moderate theory of how one should respond to disagreement. I argue that ultimately, when we weaken conciliationism and the steadfast view to account for exception cases and to make them adequately plausible, they end up converging on the moderate view I present. Much of the seeming disagreement about disagreement is, then, illusory
Keywords Disagreement  Reliability  Resilience  Rationality  Epistemology
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