The Problem of Peer Demotion, Revisited and Resolved

Analytic Philosophy 62 (2):125-140 (2021)
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Abstract

In any domain of inductive reasoning, we must take care to distinguish between (i) which hypothesis my evidence supports, and (ii) the level of confidence I should have in the hypothesis, given my evidence. This distinction can help resolve the problem of peer demotion, a central point of contention in the epistemology of peer disagreement. It is true that disagreement does not provide evidence that I am right and you are wrong. But it need not, in order to lead to peer demotion: instead, significant disagreement can erode my confidence in the initial peer assessment to a point where I can no longer rationally sustain the belief that we are equally reliable. One consequence of this solution is that the line dividing the Equal Weight view from its competitors emerges as an artifact of a mistakenly one-dimensional picture of the epistemic significance of peer disagreement.

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Endre Begby
Simon Fraser University