Permissivism is the thesis that, for some body of evidence and a proposition p, there is more than one rational doxastic attitude any agent with that evidence can take toward p. Proponents of uniqueness deny permissivism, maintaining that every body of evidence always determines a single rational doxastic attitude. In this paper, we explore the debate between permissivism and uniqueness about evidence, outlining some of the major arguments on each side. We then consider how permissivism can be understood as an (...) underdetermination thesis, and show how this moves the debate forward in fruitful ways: in distinguishing between different types of permissivism, in dispelling classic objections to permissivism, and in shedding light on the relationship between permissivism and evidentialism. (shrink)
The underdetermination of scientific theory choice by evidence is a familiar but multifaceted concept in the philosophy of science. I answer two pressing questions about underdetermination: “What is underdetermination?” and “Why should we care about underdetermination?” To answer the first question, I provide a general definition of underdetermination, identify four forms of underdetermination, and discuss major criticisms of each form. To answer the second question, I then survey two common uses of underdetermination in broader arguments against scientific realism and in (...) support of the use of values in scientific theory choice. I conclude that philosophers should also care about underdetermination because it impacts scientists in their practice. (shrink)
In discussions of religious disagreement, some epistemologists have suggested that religious disagreement is distinctive. More specifically, they have argued that religious disagreement has certain features which make it possible for theists to resist conciliatory arguments that they must adjust their religious beliefs in response to finding that peers disagree with them. I consider what I take to be the two most prominent features which are claimed to make religious disagreement distinct: religious evidence and evaluative standards in religious contexts. I argue (...) that these two features fail to distinguish religious disagreement in the ways they have been taken to. However, I show that the view that religious disagreement is not a unique form of disagreement makes religious disagreement less, rather than more, worrisome to the theist who would prefer to rationally remain steadfast in her religious beliefs. (shrink)
We provide a novel defense of the possibility of level-splitting beliefs and use this defense to show that the steadfast response to peer disagreement is not, as it is often claimed to be, unnecessarily dogmatic. To provide this defense, a neglected form of moral disagreement is analysed. Within the context of this particular kind of moral disagreement, a similarly neglected form of level-splitting belief is identified and then defended from critics of the rationality of level-splitting beliefs. The chapter concludes by (...) showing that proponents of the steadfast response to peer disagreement can adopt this form of level-splitting belief in the context of these moral disagreements while exemplifying intellectual humility, rather than dogmatism. (shrink)
Most philosophical discussions of disagreement have used idealized disagreements to draw conclusions about the nature of disagreement. I closely examine an actual, non-idealized disagreement in dinosaur paleobiology and show that it can not only teach us about the features of some of our real world disagreements, but can help us to argue for the possibility of reasonable real world disagreement.
I provide a critical review of Moti Mizrahi's The Relativity of Theory, expounding on the book's strengths and then providing an extended argument that Mizrahi mischaracterizes the epistemic attitude of concern to antirealism about science as well as the practical stakes involved in adopting the antirealist position.