I intend to bring recent work applying virtue theory to the study of argument to bear on a much older problem, that of disagreements that resist rational resolution, sometimes termed "deep disagreements". Just as some virtue epistemologists have lately shifted focus onto epistemic vices, I shall argue that a renewed focus on the vices of argument can help to illuminate deep disagreements. In particular, I address the role of arrogance, both as a factor in the diagnosis of (...) class='Hi'>deep disagreements and as an obstacle to their mutually acceptable resolution. Arrogant arguers are likely to make any disagreements to which they are party seem deeper than they really are and arrogance impedes the strategies that we might adopt to resolve deep disagreements. As a case in point, since arrogant or otherwise vicious arguers cannot be trusted not to exploit such strategies for untoward ends, any policy for deepdisagreement amelioration must require particularly close attention to the vices of argument, lest they be exploited by the unscrupulous. (shrink)
What is the nature of deepdisagreement? In this paper, I consider two similar albeit seemingly rival answers to this question: the Wittgensteinian theory, according to which deep disagreements are disagreements over hinge propositions, and the fundamental epistemic principle theory, according to which deep disagreements are disagreements over fundamental epistemic principles. I assess these theories against a set of desiderata for a satisfactory theory of deepdisagreement, and argue that while the fundamental epistemic principle (...) theory does better than the Wittgensteinian theory on this score, the fundamental epistemic principle theory nevertheless struggles to explain the variety of deepdisagreement. (shrink)
In “The logic of deep disagreements” (Informal Logic, 1985), Robert Fogelin claimed that there is a kind of disagreement – deepdisagreement – which is, by its very nature, impervious to rational resolution. He further claimed that these two views are attributable to Wittgenstein. Following an exposition and discussion of that claim, we review and draw some lessons from existing responses in the literature to Fogelin’s claims. In the final two sections (6 and 7) we explore (...) the role reason can, and sometimes does, play in the resolution of deep disagreements. In doing this we discuss a series of cases, mainly drawn from Wittgenstein, which we take to illustrate the resolution of deep disagreements through the use of what we call “rational persuasion.” We conclude that, while the role of argumentation in “normal” versus “deep” disagreements is characteristically different, it plays a crucial role in the resolution of both. (shrink)
This paper explores the application of hinge epistemology to deepdisagreement. Hinge epistemology holds that there is a class of commitments—hinge commitments—which play a fundamental role in the structure of belief and rational evaluation: they are the most basic general ‘presuppositions’ of our world views which make it possible for us to evaluate certain beliefs or doubts as rational. Deep disagreements seem to crucially involve disagreements over such fundamental commitments. In this paper, I consider pessimism about (...) class='Hi'>deepdisagreement, the thesis that such disagreements are rationally irresolvable, and ask whether the Wittgensteinian account of deepdisagreement—according to which such disagreements are disagreements over hinge commitments—provides adequate support for pessimism. I argue that the answer to this question depends on what hinge commitments are and what our epistemic relation to them is supposed to be. I argue for two core claims. First, that non-epistemic theories of hinge commitments provide adequate support for pessimism. Nevertheless, such theories have highly implausible consequences in the context of deepdisagreement. Secondly, at least one epistemic theory of hinge commitments, the entitlement theory, permits optimism about such disagreements. As such, while hinge epistemology is mainly pessimistic about deepdisagreement, it doesn’t have to be. (shrink)
In this paper, I present two tools that help shed light on deep disagreements and their epistemological consequences. First, I argue that we are best off construing deep disagreements as disagreements over conflicting understandings of certain concepts. More specifically, I suggest that deep disagreements are disagreements over how to understand concepts that play what Michael Friedman calls a “constitutive” role for speakers. Second, I argue that we need a better understanding of what speakers are doing when they (...) engage in deep disagreements—what speech acts they are carrying out. I show that we are best off not reducing the relevant speech acts to more familiar speech act kinds, such as assertions or imperatives. I argue that when a speaker articulates an understanding of a concept, they are in part carrying out an act of stipulation. I provide an account of the pragmatics of stipulation and apply the account to examples of deepdisagreement. Focusing on the stipulative dimension of deepdisagreement opens up, in turn, a novel approach to defusing the epistemological challenges such disagreement seems to pose. (shrink)
In this paper I begin by examining Fogelin’s account of deepdisagreement. My contention is that this account is so deeply flawed as to cast doubt on the possibility that such deep disagreements actually happen. Nevertheless, I contend that the notion of deepdisagreement itself is a useful theoretical foil for thinking about argumentation. The second part of this paper makes this case by showing how thinking about deep disagreements from the perspective of rhetoric, (...) Walton-style argumentation theory, computation, and normative pragmatics can all yield insights that are useful no matter what one’s orientation within the study of argument. Thus, I conclude that deepdisagreement –even if it were to turn out that there are no real-world occurrences of it to which we can point–is useful for theorists of argumentation. In this wise, deepdisagreement poses a theoretical challenge for argumentation theory not unlike that posed by radical skepticism for traditional epistemology. (shrink)
Robert Fogelin claims that interlocutors must share a framework of background beliefs and commitments in order to fruitfully pursue argument. I refute Fogelin’s claim by investigating more thoroughly the shared background required for productive argument. I find that this background consists not in any common beliefs regarding the topic at hand, but rather in certain shared pro-cedural commitments and competencies. I suggest that Fogelin and his supporters mistakenly view shared beliefs as part of the required background for productive argument because (...) these procedural com-mitments become more difficult to uphold when people’s beliefs diverge widely regarding the topic at hand. (shrink)
In this paper, I will argue for a complex of three theses. First, that the problem of deepdisagreement is an instance of the regress problem of justification. Second, that the problem of deepdisagreement, as a regress problem, depends on a dialecticality requirement for arguments. Third, that the dialecticality requirement is plausible and defensible.
We sometimes disagree not only about facts, but also about how best to acquire evidence or justified beliefs within the domain of facts that we disagree about. And sometimes we have no dispute-independent ways of settling what the best ways of acquiring evidence in these domains are. Following Michael Lynch, I call this phenomenon deepdisagreement. In the paper, I outline various forms of deepdisagreement, following but also in certain respects revising and expanding Lynch’s exposition (...) in (2010, 2012). As is well known, for the externalist about knowledge and epistemic justification deep disagreements may be nothing more than an unfortunate failure of communication. Yet, though he grants this, Lynch argues that deepdisagreement points to a sort of practical problem. I agree. In my paper I propose a revised account of the sort of practical problem that deepdisagreement may pose. In short, my claim is that deepdisagreement may be a problem due to the role that shared factual beliefs may have in common decision-making. I discuss and assess various reactions to the problem of deepdisagreement, including the one proposed by Lynch. I argue that none of the solutions discussed in the paper are satisfactory. (shrink)
This paper argues that significant aspects of the vaccination debate are ‘deep’ in a sense described by Robert Fogelin and others. Some commentators have suggested that such disagreements warrant rather threatening responses. I argue that appreciating that a disagreement is deep might have positive implications, changing our moral assessment of individuals and their decisions, shedding light on the limits of the obligation to give and respond to arguments in cases of moral disagreement, and providing an incentive (...) to seek alternative ways of going on in the face of intractable moral disagreement. Non-coercive, non-reasoned strategies have been used or recommended to increase vaccination rates. Such strategies look problematic when judged by the standards of ideal moral and rational argumentation, but more acceptable if seen as responses to deep disagreements. (shrink)
In deep disagreements local disagreements are intertwined with more general basic disagreements about the relevant evidence, standards of argument or proper methods of inquiry in that domain. The paper provides a more specific conception of deepdisagreement along these lines and argues that while we should generally conciliate in cases of disagreement, this is not so in deep disagreements. The paper offers a general view of disagreement, holding roughly that one should moderate one’s credence (...) towards uncertainty in so far as disagreement with others provides undefeated higher order evidence that one might have made a mistake in one’s appreciation of the first order evidence. When applying this view to deepdisagreement we get that in cases of deepdisagreement higher order evidence from disagreement is rebutted or undercut by the nature of the disagreement. So, in cases of deepdisagreement one should not moderate one’s credence. I finally argue that this gives a better general view of deepdisagreement than views appealing to epistemic peers, personal information or independence. (shrink)
My objective in this paper is to compare two philosophical problems, the problem of the criterion and the problem of deepdisagreement, and note a core similarity which explains why many proposed solutions to these problems seem to fail along similar lines. From this observation, I propose a kind of skeptical solution to the problem of deepdisagreement, and this skeptical program has consequences for the problem as it manifests in political epistemology and metaphilosophy.
The concept of deepdisagreement is useful for highlighting skills and resources required for reasons-giving to be effective in restoring cooperative or joint action. It marks a limit. When it is instead understood as a challenge to be overcome by using reasons, it leads to significant practical, theoretical, and moral distortions.
In this paper, I argue for three theses. First, that the problem of DeepDisagreement is usefully understood as an instance of the skeptical Problem of the Criterion. Second, there are structural similarities between proposed optimistic answers to deepdisagreement and the problem of the criterion. Third, in light of these similarities, there are both good and bad consequences for proposed solutions to the problem of deepdisagreement.
According to Fogelin’s account of deep disagreements, disputes caused by a clash in framework propositions are necessarily rationally irresolvable. Fogelin’s thesis is a claim about real-life, and not purely hypothetical, arguments: there are such disagreements, and they are incapable of rational resolution. Surprisingly then, few attempts have been made to find such disputes in order to test Fogelin’s thesis. This paper aims to rectify that failure. Firstly, it clarifies Fogelin’s concept of deepdisagreement and shows there are (...) several different breeds of such disagreements. Thus, to fully assess Fogelin’s thesis, it will be necessary to seek out cases of each breed to evaluate their rational irresolvability. Secondly, it begins this task by looking at a significant debate within the logical literature over the truth of contradictions. We demonstrate that, while the debate exemplifies a breed of deepdisagreement, the parties involved can supply one another with rationally compelling reasons. (shrink)
Fogelin’s Wittgensteinian view of deepdisagreement as allowing no rational resolution has been criticized from both argumentation theoretic and epistemological perspectives. These criticisms typically do not recognize how his point applies to the very argumentative resources on which they rely. Additionally, more extremely than Fogelin himself argues, the conditions of deepdisagreement make each position literally unintelligible to the other, again disallowing rational resolution. In turn, however, this failure of sense is so extreme that it partly (...) cancels its own meaning as a failure of sense. Consequently, it paradoxically opens new possibilities for sense and therefore rationally unexpected resolutions. (shrink)
I discuss Toulmin's (1964) concept of backing with respect to the emotional mode of arguing by examining an example from Fogelin (1985), where emotional backing justifies a warrant concerning when we should judge that a person is being pig-headed. While Fogelin 's treatment is consistent with contemporary emotion science, I show that it needs to be supplemented by therapeutic techniques by comparing an analysis of an emotional argument from Gilbert (1997). The introduction of psychotherapy into argumentation theory raises the question (...) of the extent to which ordinary arguers can use such techniques. Psychotherapeutic techniques can be used in an intractable quarrel; is it fruitful to use them in the context of a deepdisagreement? (shrink)
The shocking statement made by Robert Fogelin over 20 years ago when he claimed that discourses that are in deepdisagreement cannot be resolved rationally, is still causing many problems to argumentation theorists. In this paper, however, I argue that discourses that are in deepdisagreement, at least some of them, can be rationally resolved by introducing the concept of “third party” to those particular discourses.
Deepdisagreement is a disagreement about epistemic principles, pertaining to the methods of justification and argumentation. Relying on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s conceptual metaphor of “hinges,” researchers arrive at the conclusion that deepdisagreement cannot be resolved. This conclusion leads to relativism in the theory of argumentation. The aim of the article is to show that in the situation of deepdisagreement it is theoretically possible to ascertain which of the positions of the participants of (...) the argument has a better epistemic status, and hence, is argumentatively virtuous. (shrink)
Robert Fogelin argued that the efficacy of our acts of reasons-giving depends on the normalcy of our discourse—to the extent that discourse is not normal disagreements occurring in it are deep; and to the extent that disagreements are deep, they are not susceptible to rational resolution. Against this, Maurice Finocchiaro argues that meta-argumentation can contribute to the rational resolution of disagreements having depth. Drawing upon a competency view of reasons-giving, this article conducts an inventory and audit of meta-argumentation’s (...) resolution resources for disagreements having depth. It concludes that, because Finocchiaro mischaracterizes the relationship between meta-argumentation and normalcy in the underlying discourse, he systematically overstates the rational resolution value of meta-argumentation. To the extent that meta-argumentation can contribute to the rational resolution of disagreements, those disagreements are normal, not deep. According to the competency view, the only way to resolve depth in disagreement is to first re-establish its normalcy. (shrink)
Recently a number of writers have argued that a new form of relativism involves a form of semantic context-dependence which helps it escape the perhaps most common objection to ordinary contextualism; that it cannot accommodate our intuitions about disagreement. I argue: (i) In order to evaluate this claim we have to pay closer attention to the nature of our intuitions about disagreement. (ii) We have different such intuitions concerning different questions: we have more stable disagreement intuitions about (...) moral disputes than about, say, disputes about matters of taste. (iii) The new form of relativism does not vindicate the stable intuitions about disagreement. (iv) It does a better job explaining the unstable intuitions than contextualism. But, pace some relativists, it is not clear that assertion-truth rather than just proposition-truth has to be relativized to accomplish this. (shrink)
Deep disagreements concern our most basic and fundamental commitments. Such disagreements seem to be problematic because they appear to manifest epistemic incommensurability in our epistemic systems, and thereby lead to epistemic relativism. This problem is confronted via consideration of a Wittgensteinian hinge epistemology. On the face of it, this proposal exacerbates the problem of deep disagreements by granting that our most fundamental commitments are essentially arationally held. It is argued, however, that a hinge epistemology, properly understood, does not (...) licence epistemic incommensurability or epistemic relativism at all. On the contrary, such an epistemology in fact shows us how to rationally respond to deep disagreements. It is claimed that if we can resist these consequences even from the perspective of a hinge epistemology, then we should be very suspicious of the idea that deep disagreements in general are as epistemologically problematic as has been widely supposed. (shrink)
According to Robert Fogelin, deep disagreements are disagreements about fundamental principles. He argues that deep disagreements cannot be rationally resolved. In this paper I argue against this thesis. A key part of the response depends upon the claim that disagreements can be rationally resolved not only by one participant rationally coming around to the other's point of view, but also by both of them rationally suspending judgment about the disputed proposition. I also claim that suspension of judgment may (...) be the rational response in the examples Fogelin characterizes as deep disagreements. I deny that this result has any troubling implications for critical thinking. (shrink)
Argument-giving reasons for a view-is our model of rational dispute resolution. Fogelin suggests that certain "deep" disagreements cannot be resolved in this way because features of their context "undercut the conditions essential to arguing" . In this paper we add some detail to Fogelin's treatment of intractable disagreements. In doing so we distinguish between his relatively modest claim that some disputes cannot be resolved through argument and his more radical claim that such disputes are beyond rational resolution. This distinction, (...) along with some ofthe detail we add to Fogelin's treatment, sheds some useful light on the project of informal logic. (shrink)
The report of the President's Council on Bioethics, Human Cloning and Human Dignity, addresses the central ethical, political, and policy issue in human embryonic stem cell research: the moral status of extracorporeal human embryos. The Council members were in sharp disagreement on this issue and essentially failed to adequately engage and respectfully acknowledge each others' deepest moral concerns, despite their stated commitment to do so. This essay provides a detailed critique of the two extreme views on the Council (i.e., (...) embryos have full moral status or they have none at all) and then gives theoretical grounding for our judgment about the intermediate moral status of embryos. It also supplies an account of how to address profound moral disagreements in the public arena, especially by way of constructing a middle ground that deliberately pays sincere respect to the views of those with whom it has deep disagreements. (shrink)
The epistemology of disagreement examines the question of how an agent ought to respond to awareness of epistemic peer disagreement about one of her beliefs. The literature on this topic, ironically enough, represents widespread disagreement about how we should respond to disagreement. I argue for the sceptical conclusion that the existence of widespread disagreement throughout the history of philosophy, and right up until the present day indicates that philosophers are highly unreliable at arriving at the (...) truth. If truth convergence indicates progress in a field, then there is little progress in philosophy. This sceptical conclusion, however, need not make us give up philosophizing: That we should currently be sceptical of our philosophical beliefs is a contingent fact. We are an intellectually immature species and given the existence of the deep future we have some reason to think that there will be truth-convergence in philosophy in the future. (shrink)
Deep disagreements are characteristically resistant to rational resolution. This paper explores the contribution a virtue theoretic approach to argumentation can make towards settling the practical matter of what to do when confronted with apparent deepdisagreement, with particular attention to the virtue of courage.
In the epistemology of disagreement literature an underdeveloped argument defending the claim that an agent need not conciliate when she becomes aware of epistemic peer disagreement is based on the idea that there are epistemic benefits to be gained from disagreement. Such benefits are unobtainable if an agent conciliates in the face of peer disagreement. I argue that there are good reasons to embrace this line of argument at least in inquiry-related contexts. In argumentation theory a (...)deepdisagreement occurs when there is a disagreement between fundamental frameworks. According to Robert J. Fogelin disagreements between fundamental frameworks are not susceptible to rational resolution. Instead of evaluating this claim I argue that deep disagreements can lead to epistemic benefits, at least when inquiry is in view. Whether rational resolution is possible in cases of deep disagreements, their existence turns out to be epistemically beneficial. I conclude by examining whether this line of argument can be taken beyond research-related contexts.Dans la littérature sur l'épistémologie du désaccord, un argument sous-développé pour une approche non conciliatoire se fonde sur l'idée qu'il y a des bénéfices épistémiques à tirer du désaccord. De tels bénéfices sont impossibles à obtenir si un agent se concilie face au désaccord avec ses pairs, du moins dans les contextes liés à la recherche. Dans la théorie de l'argumentation, un désaccord profond se produit lorsqu'il y a un désaccord entre des propositions cadres. Je soutiens que des désaccords profonds peuvent mener à des avantages épistémiques, du moins dans le contexte de la recherche. Que la résolution rationnelle soit ou non possible en cas de désaccord profond, leur existence s'avère être bénéfique sur le plan épistémologique. (shrink)
This paper begins with an assessment of the origin of the term ‘deepdisagreement’ to reflect fundamental differences in argument procedure and suggests an alternative explanation of such stalemates that may apply in many cases and does lead to a possible resolution strategy, through discussion of the ordering of certain principles, rather than their acceptance or rejection. Similarities are then drawn with disputes which are supported by conflicting expert opinions and I lay out the advantages of seeking to (...) resolve them through the construction of an epistemic hierarchy. It is noted that while such hierarchies may not be easy to build, and are certainly not fool-proof, their importance is in the provision of a mechanism by which an apparently stalled debate can move forward, leading to a better understanding of the conflicting positions, if not full resolution. (shrink)
Interpersonal disagreement happens all the time. How to properly characterize interpersonal disagreement and how to respond to it are important problems, but that such disagreements exist is obvious. The existence of intrapersonal disagreement, however, is another matter. On the one hand, we do change our minds sometimes, especially when new evidence comes in, and so there is a clear enough sense in which we can be characterized as having disagreements with our past selves. But what about synchronic (...) disagreements with ourselves? Are such cases possible, or is there something about the nature of belief that rules out the possibility of knowingly holding beliefs which cannot be rationally held at the same time? In this paper, I argue that there can be cases of intrapersonal synchronic disagreement, and that such disagreements can be deep, in the same way that interpersonal disagreements can be deep. For intrapersonal disagreements, just like interpersonal disagreements, can be grounded in conflicting frameworks for interpreting and reasoning about the world. I also argue that synchronic intrapersonal disagreements are peer disagreements. The paper ends with a discussion of four possible responses to interpersonal deep disagreements, concluding that if those responses are sometimes rational responses in the interpersonal case, then they are also sometimes rational responses in the intrapersonal case. (shrink)
Relativism and contextualism are the most popular accounts of faultless disagreement, but Crispin Wright once argued for an account I call divergentism. According to divergentism, parties who possess all relevant information and use the same standards of assessment in the same context of utterance can disagree about the same proposition without either party being in epistemic fault, yet only one of them is right. This view is an alternative to relativism, indexical contextualism, and nonindexical contextualism, and has advantages over (...) those views. Wright eventually abandoned this view in favor of relativism for reasons related to a conciliationist view of disagreement between epistemic peers. I argue that he gave up on divergentism too soon. (shrink)
Some moral disagreements are so persistent that we suspect they are deep : we would disagree even when we have all relevant information and no one makes any mistakes. The possibility of deepdisagreement is thought to drive cognitivists toward relativism, but most cognitivists reject relativism. There is an alternative. According to divergentism, cognitivists can reject relativism while allowing for deepdisagreement. This view has rarely been defended at length, but many philosophers have implicitly endorsed (...) its elements. I will defend it. (shrink)
Two common claims in philosophy are that deep disagreements cannot, in principle, be resolved by argument and that normal disagreements will be resolved by argument. In each claim it is assumed that the parties to the disagreement are rational. I argue that both claims are false. The first fails to take account of refutations. The second fails to recognise the role of conjectures in the dynamics of the growth of knowledge. There is no disagreement such that it (...) is impossible for rational parties to reach agreement by argument; but there is also no disagreement for which parties are rationally required to reach agreement by argument. Given the same evidence, it may be rational for one person to believe a specific proposition and another to believe its negation. (shrink)
In his 2014 article “Motivations for Relativism as a Solution to Disagreements”, Steven Hales argues that relativism is a plausible disagreement resolution strategy for epistemically irresolvable disagreements. I argue that his relativistic strategy is not adequate for disagreements of this kind, because it demands an impossible doxastic state for disputants to resolve the disagreement. Contrarily, Fogelin’s :1–8, 1985) theory of deepdisagreement does not run into the same problems. Deep disagreements, according to Fogelin, cannot be (...) resolved through argumentation because the conditions for argumentation are lacking in such contexts. I advance the view that deep disagreements arise due to differences in disputants’ mutually supporting interrelated beliefs. This view avoids the hurdles caused by the tiered structure of support found at the heart of Hales’s view on disagreement: the assumption that belief and perspective can be separated, and that disagreement is located. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to bring together work on disagreement in both epistemology and argumentation theory in a way that will advance the relevant debates. While these literatures can intersect in many ways, I will explore how some of views pertaining to deep disagreements in argumentation theory can act as an objection to a prominent view of the epistemology of disagreement—the Equal Weight View. To do so, I will explain the Equal Weight View of peer (...)disagreement and show how it entails that deep disagreements between epistemic peers are rationally resolvable. I will then examine a challenge to the Equal Weight View that claims that this consequence is untenable. Having motivated the challenge, I show that there is a viable response to make on behalf of the Equal Weight View. I conclude by considering and responding to several objections to this response. (shrink)
Reason is the tool of our knowledge but in philosophy this tool encounters difficulties, especially, when it is faced with the big questions - the source of philosophy's deep disagreements. Another difficulty arises from the fact that philosophy and religion cross each other's path: the first draws deductions from rational principles in its approach to religion while the second does not remain firm on its terrain - it keeps looking for rational answers. In essence, this is what this article (...) deals with. If for thousands of years philosophers have been taking turns in arguing and disagreeing with one another on some big questions, there comes a time when the circle has to be broken. In fact, that time has come; this article offers a novel approach to end the age-old debate on, for instance, God talk. (shrink)
The authors argue in favor of the “nonconciliation” (or “steadfast”) position concerning the problem of peer disagreement. Throughout the paper they place heavy emphasis on matters of phenomenology—on how things seem epistemically with respect to the net import of one’s available evidence vis-à-vis the disputed claim p, and on how such phenomenology is affected by the awareness that an interlocutor whom one initially regards as an epistemic peer disagrees with oneself about p. Central to the argument is a nested (...) goal/sub-goal hierarchy that the authors claim is inherent to the structure of epistemically responsible belief-formation: pursuing true beliefs by pursuing beliefs that are objectively likely given one’s total available evidence; pursuing this sub-goal by pursuing beliefs that are likely true (given that evidence) relative to one’s own deep epistemic sensibility; and pursuing this sub-sub-goal by forming beliefs in accordance with one’s own all-in, ultima facie, epistemic seemings. (shrink)
This chapter has two sections, each focusing on a distinct way in which ethical disagreement and variations in ethical judgment matter for theories of ethical thought and talk. In the first section, we look at how the variation poses problems for both cognitivist and non-cognitivist ways of specifying the nature of ethical judgments. In the second, we look at how disagreement phenomena have been taken to undermine cognitivist accounts, but also at how the seeming variation in cognitive and (...) non-cognitive contents between parties of deep ethical disagreement challenges both cognitivist and non-cognitivist accounts of disagreement itself. (shrink)
In response to earlier papers in Informal Logic by Robert Fogelin and Andrew Lugg, this paper explores the issue of whether disagreement could ever be so deep that it defied rational resolution. Contra Lugg, I agree with Fogelin that such unresolvable disagreement is possible and, contra Fogelin, I suggest that the focus of such disagreement can be quite Iimited-a single proposition rather than a whole system of beliefs. I also suggest that emphasising arguing as a human (...) practice rather than arguments as a structure of propositions is unhelpful to consideration of these issues. (shrink)
The existence of deep and persistent moral disagreement poses a problem for a defender of moral knowledge. It seems particularly clear that a philosopher who thinks that we know a great many moral truths should explain how human populations have failed to converge on those truths. In this paper, I do two things. First, I show that the problem is more difficult than it is often taken to be, and second, I criticize a popular response, which involves claiming (...) that many false moral beliefs are the product of nonmoral ignorance. (shrink)
This thesis engages with three topics and the relationships between them: (i) the phenomenon of disagreement (paradigmatically, where one person makes a claim and another denies it); (ii) the normative character of disagreements (the issue of whether, and in what sense, one of the parties is “at fault” for believing something that’s untrue); (iii) the issue of which theory of what truth is can best accommodate the norms relating belief and truth. People disagree about all sorts of things: about (...) whether climate is changing, death penalty is wrong, sushi is delicious, or Louis C.K. is funny. However, even focusing on disagreements in the evaluative domain (e.g., taste, moral and comedic), where people have the intuition that there is ‘no fact of the matter’ about who is right, there are significant differences that require explanation. For instance, disagreement about taste is generally perceived as shallow. People accept to disagree and live comfortably with that fact. By contrast, moral disagreement is perceived as deep and sometimes hard to tolerate. Comedic disagreement is similar to taste. However, it may involve an element of ‘intellectual snobbery’ that is absent in taste disagreement. The immediate questions are whether these contrasts allow of precise characterization and what is responsible for them. I argue that, once a case is made for the truth-aptness of judgments in these areas, the contrast can be explained in terms of variable normative function of truth – as exerting a lightweight normative constraint in the domain of taste and a stricter constraint in the moral domain. In particular I claim that while truth in the moral domain exerts a sui generis deontic control, this normative feature of truth is silent in both the taste and the comedic domains. This leads me to investigate how to conceive of truth in the light of normative variability. I argue that an amended version of deflationism – minimally inflated deflationism – can account for the normative variability of truth. (shrink)