The epistemic significance of political disagreement

Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2187-2202 (2019)
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The degree of doxastic revision required in response to evidence of disagreement is typically thought to be a function of our beliefs about (1) our interlocutor’s familiarity with the relevant evidence and arguments, and their intellectual capacities and virtues, relative to our own, or (2) the expected probability of our interlocutor being correct, conditional on our disagreeing. While these two factors are typically used interchangeably, I show that they have an inverse correlation in cases of disagreement about politically divisive propositions. This presents us with a puzzle about the epistemic impact of disagreement in these cases. The most significant disagreements on (1) are the least significant disagreements on (2), and vice versa. I show that assessing the epistemic status of an interlocutor by reference to either (1) or (2) has uncomfortable consequences in these cases. I then argue that this puzzle cannot be escaped by claiming that we usually have dispute-independent reason to reject the significance of politically charged disagreement altogether.



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Bjørn Hallsson
University of Copenhagen

Citations of this work

A Faithful Response to Disagreement.Lara Buchak - 2021 - The Philosophical Review 130 (2):191-226.
The Surprising Truth About Disagreement.Neil Levy - 2020 - Acta Analytica 36 (2):137-157.
The Epistemology of Disagreement.Michel Croce - 2023 - Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
A Bayesian Solution to Hallsson's Puzzle.Thomas Mulligan - 2023 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 66 (10):1914-1927.

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References found in this work

Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Epistemology of disagreement: The good news.David Christensen - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):187-217.
Reflection and disagreement.Adam Elga - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):478–502.

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