Would Disagreement Undermine Progress?

Journal of Philosophy 120 (3):139-172 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

In recent years, several philosophers have argued that their discipline makes no progress (or not enough in comparison to the “hard sciences”). A key argument for this pessimistic position appeals to the purported fact that philosophers widely and systematically disagree on most major philosophical issues. In this paper, we take a step back from the debate about progress in philosophy specifically and consider the general question: How (if at all) would disagreement within a discipline undermine that discipline’s progress? We reject two arguments from disagreement to a lack of progress, and spell out two accounts of progress on which progress is compatible with disagreements that persist or increase over time. However, we also argue that disagreement can undermine our ability to tell which developments are progressive (and to what degree). So, while disagreement can indeed be a threat to progress, the precise nature of the threat has not been appreciated.

Similar books and articles

Philosophy doesn't need a concept of progress.Yafeng Shan - 2022 - Metaphilosophy 53 (2-3):176-184.
Philosophical Progress, Skepticism, and Disagreement.Annalisa Coliva & Louis Doulas - forthcoming - In Maria Baghramian, Adam Carter & R. Rowland (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Disagreement. Routledge.
Extensive Philosophical Agreement and Progress.Bryan Frances - 2017 - Metaphilosophy 48 (1-2):47-57.
Epistemic Progress Despite Systematic Disagreement.Dustin Olson - 2019 - Epistemology and Philosophy of Science 56 (2):77 - 94.
Progress and Historical Reflection in Philosophy.Thomas Grundmann - 2018 - In Marcel van Ackeren (ed.), Philosophy and the Historical Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 51-68.
Disagreement, Deep Time, and Progress in Philosophy.Kirk Lougheed - 2019 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 9 (4):285-313.
What is theoretical progress of science?Juha Saatsi - 2019 - Synthese 196 (2):611-631.
Scientific progress: Four accounts.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (11):e12525.
Scientific Progress, Understanding, and Knowledge: Reply to Park.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (3):451-459.

Analytics

Added to PP
2022-06-16

Downloads
871 (#15,591)

6 months
229 (#9,525)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Finnur Dellsén
University of Iceland
Insa Lawler
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
James Norton
University of Tasmania

Citations of this work

Why Mary Left Her Room.Michaela M. McSweeney - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Disagreement.Jonathan Matheson & Bryan Frances - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Why philosophy needs a concept of progress.James Norton - 2023 - Metaphilosophy 54 (1):3-16.

Add more citations