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Should We Aim for Consensus?

Episteme 7 (3):198-214 (2010)

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  1. Deliberation and Disagreement: Problem Solving, Prediction, and Positive Dissensus.Hélène Landemore & Scott E. Page - 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (3):229-254.
    Consensus plays an ambiguous role in deliberative democracy. While it formed the horizon of early deliberative theories, many now denounce it as an empirically unachievable outcome, a logically impossible stopping rule, and a normatively undesirable ideal. Deliberative disagreement, by contrast, is celebrated not just as an empirically unavoidable outcome but also as a democratically sound and normatively desirable goal of deliberation. Majority rule has generally displaced unanimity as the ideal way of bringing deliberation to a close. This article offers an (...)
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  • Moral Responsibility, Culpable Ignorance and Suppressed Disagreement.Katherine Furman - 2018 - Social Epistemology 32 (5):287-299.
    Ignorance can excuse otherwise blameworthy action, but only if the ignorance itself is blameless. One way to avoid culpable ignorance is to pay attention when epistemic peers disagree. Expressed disagreements place an obligation on the agent to pay attention when an interlocutor disagrees, or risk culpable ignorance for which they might later be found blameworthy. Silence, on the other hand, is typically taken as assent. But in cases of suppressed disagreement, the silenced interlocutor has information that could save the agent (...)
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  • The Rationality of Scientific Reasoning in the Context of Pursuit: Drawing Appropriate Distinctions.Dunja Seselja, Laszlo Kosolosky & Christian Strasser - 2012 - Philosophica 86:51-82.
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  • Deliberative Voting: Clarifying Consent in a Consensus Process.Alfred Moore & Kieran O'Doherty - 2014 - Journal of Political Philosophy 22 (3):302-319.
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  • Democratic Consensus as an Essential Byproduct.Michael Fuerstein - 2014 - Journal of Political Philosophy 22 (3):282-301.
    In this paper, I try to show that democratic consensus – one of the more prominent ideals in recent political thought – is an essential byproduct of epistemically warranted beliefs about political action and organization, at least in those cases where the issues under dispute are epistemic in nature. An essential byproduct (to borrow Jon Elster’s term) is a goal that can only be intentionally achieved by aiming at some other objective. In my usage, a political issue is epistemic when (...)
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  • “Agreement” in the IPCC Confidence Measure.William Rehg & Kent Staley - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 57:126-134.
  • Are There Limits to Scientists' Obligations to Seek and Engage Dissenters?Kristen Intemann & Inmaculada de Melo-Martín - 2014 - Synthese 191 (12):2751-2765.
    Dissent is thought to play a valuable role in science, so that scientific communities ought to create opportunities for receiving critical feedback and take dissenting views seriously. There is concern, however, that some dissent does more harm than good. Dissent on climate change and evolutionary theory, for example, has confused the public, created doubt about existing consensus, derailed public policy, and forced scientists to devote resources to respond. Are there limits to the extent to which scientific communities have obligations to (...)
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  • 'Explicating Ways of Consensus-Making: Distinguishing the Academic, the Interface and the Meta-Consensus.Laszlo Kosolosky & Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2014 - In Carlo Martini (ed.), Experts and Consensus in Social Science. Berlin: Springer. pp. 71-92.
  • Method in the Service of Progress.John Bengson, Terence Cuneo & Russ Shafer-Landau - 2019 - Analytic Philosophy 60 (3):179-205.
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  • Scientific Consensus and Expert Testimony in Courts: Lessons From the Bendectin Litigation.Boaz Miller - 2016 - Foundations of Science 21 (1):15-33.
    A consensus in a scientific community is often used as a resource for making informed public-policy decisions and deciding between rival expert testimonies in legal trials. This paper contains a social-epistemic analysis of the high-profile Bendectin drug controversy, which was decided in the courtroom inter alia by deference to a scientific consensus about the safety of Bendectin. Drawing on my previously developed account of knowledge-based consensus, I argue that the consensus in this case was not knowledge based, hence courts’ deference (...)
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  • Introduction: Social Epistemology Meets the Philosophy of the Humanities.Anton Froeyman, Laszlo Kosolosky & Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2016 - Foundations of Science 21 (1):1-13.
    From time to time, when I explain to a new acquaintance that I’m a philosopher of science, my interlocutor will nod agreeably and remark that that surely means I’m interested in the ethical status of various kinds of scientific research, the impact that science has had on our values, or the role that the sciences play in contemporary democracies. Although this common response hardly corresponds to what professional philosophers of science have done for the past decades, or even centuries, it (...)
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  • The Social Authority of Paradigms as Group Commitments: Rehabilitating Kuhn with Recent Social Philosophy.William Rehg - 2013 - Topoi 32 (1):21-31.
    By linking the conceptual and social dynamics of change in science, Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions proved tremendously fruitful for research in science studies. But Kuhn’s idea of incommensurability provoked strong criticism from philosophers of science. In this essay I show how Raimo Tuomela’s Philosophy of Sociality illuminates and strengthens Kuhn’s model of scientific change. After recalling the central features and problems of Kuhn’s model, I introduce Tuomela’s approach. I then show (a) how Tuomela’s conception of group ethos aligns with (...)
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  • Who's Afraid of Dissent? Addressing Concerns About Undermining Scientific Consensus in Public Policy Developments.Inmaculada de Melo-Martín & Kristen Intemann - 2014 - Perspectives on Science 22 (4):593-615.
    Many have argued that allowing and encouraging public avenues for dissent and critical evaluation of scientific research is a necessary condition for promoting the objectivity of scientific communities and advancing scientific knowledge . The history of science reveals many cases where an existing scientific consensus was later shown to be wrong . Dissent plays a crucial role in uncovering potential problems and limitations of consensus views. Thus, many have argued that scientific communities ought to increase opportunities for dissenting views to (...)
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  • The Roles of Institutional Trust and Distrust in Grounding Rational Deference to Scientific Expertise.Frédéric Bouchard - 2016 - Perspectives on Science 24 (5):582-608.
    Given the complexity of most phenomena, we have to delegate much epistemic work to other knowers and we must find reasons for relying on these specific knowers and not others. In our societies, these other knowers are often called experts and we rely on their epistemic authority more and more. For many complex phenomena such as climate change, genetically modified crops, and immunization, the experts that are called upon are scientific experts. For that reason, finding good reasons and justification for (...)
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  • Towards Democratic Models of Science: Exploring the Case of Scientific Pluralism.Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2015 - Perspectives on Science 23 (2):149-172.
    Scientific pluralism, a normative endorsement of the plurality or multiplicity of research approaches in science, has recently been advocated by several philosophers (e.g., Kellert et al. 2006, Kitcher 2001, Longino 2013, Mitchell 2009, and Chang 2010). Comparing these accounts of scientific pluralism, one will encounter quite some variation. We want to clarify the different interpretations of scientific pluralism by showing how they incarnate different models of democracy, stipulating the desired interaction among the plurality of research approaches in different ways. Furthermore, (...)
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  • The Social Epistemology of Consensus and Dissent.Boaz Miller - 2019 - In David Henderson, Peter Graham, Miranda Fricker & Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology. New York: Routledge. pp. 228-237.
    This paper reviews current debates in social epistemology about the relations ‎between ‎knowledge ‎and consensus. These relations are philosophically interesting on their ‎own, but ‎also have ‎practical consequences, as consensus takes an increasingly significant ‎role in ‎informing public ‎decision making. The paper addresses the following questions. ‎When is a ‎consensus attributable to an epistemic community? Under what conditions may ‎we ‎legitimately infer that a consensual view is knowledge-based or otherwise ‎epistemically ‎justified? Should consensus be the aim of scientific inquiry, and (...)
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  • Improving Deliberations by Reducing Misrepresentation Effects.Cyrille Imbert, Thomas Boyer-Kassem, Vincent Chevrier & Christine Bourjot - 2020 - Episteme 17 (4):403-419.
    ABSTRACTDeliberative and decisional groups play crucial roles in most aspects of social life. But it is not obvious how to organize these groups and various socio-cognitive mechanisms can spoil debates and decisions. In this paper we focus on one such important mechanism: the misrepresentation of views, i.e. when agents express views that are aligned with those already expressed, and which differ from their private opinions. We introduce a model to analyze the extent to which this behavioral pattern can warp deliberations (...)
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  • Do Collaborators in Science Need to Agree?Haixin Dang - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5).
  • Democracy as Intellectual Taste? Pluralism in Democratic Theory.Pavel Dufek - 2018 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 30 (3-4):219-255.
    The normative and metanormative pluralism that figures among core self-descriptions of democratic theory, which seems incompatible with democratic theorists’ practical ambitions, may stem from the internal logic of research traditions in the social sciences and humanities and in the conceptual structure of political theory itself. One way to deal productively with intradisciplinary diversity is to appeal to the idea of a meta-consensus; another is to appeal to the argument from cognitive diversity that fuels recent debates on epistemic democracy. For different (...)
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  • Epistemic Trust and the Ethics of Science Communication: Against Transparency, Openness, Sincerity and Honesty.Stephen John - 2018 - Social Epistemology 32 (2):75-87.
  • Rhetoric, Cogency, and the Radically Social Character of Persuasion: Habermas's Argumentation Theory Revisited.William Rehg - 2013 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 46 (4):465-492.
    What can rhetoric tell us about good arguments? The answer depends on what we mean by “good argument” and on how we conceive rhetoric. In this article I examine and further develop Jürgen Habermas’s argumentation theory as an answer to the question—or as I explain, an expanded version of that question. Habermas places his theory in the family of normative approaches that recognize (at least) three evaluative perspectives on all argument making: logic, dialectic, and rhetoric, which proponents loosely align with (...)
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