Conciliationism and Moral Spinelessness

Episteme 15 (1):101-118 (2018)
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This paper presents a challenge to conciliationist views of disagreement. I argue that conciliationists cannot satisfactorily explain why we need not revise our beliefs in response to certain moral disagreements. Conciliationists can attempt to meet this challenge in one of two ways. First, they can individuate disputes narrowly. This allows them to argue that we have dispute-independent reason to distrust our opponents’ moral judgment. This approach threatens to license objectionable dogmatism. It also inappropriately gives deep epistemic significance to superficial questions about how to think about the subject matter of a dispute. Second, conciliationists can individuate disputes widely. This allows them to argue that we lack dispute-independent reason to trust our opponents’ moral judgment. But such arguments fail; our background of generally shared moral beliefs gives us good reason to trust the moral judgment of our opponents, even after we set quite a bit of our reasoning aside. On either approach, then, conciliationists should acknowledge that we have dispute-independent reason to trust the judgment of those who reject our moral beliefs. Given a conciliationist view of disagreement’s epistemic role, this has the unattractive result that we are epistemically required to revise some of our most intuitively secure moral beliefs.

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James Fritz
Virginia Commonwealth University

Citations of this work

A Faithful Response to Disagreement.Lara Buchak - 2021 - The Philosophical Review 130 (2):191-226.
Disagreement.Jonathan Matheson & Bryan Frances - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Limitations of the Open Mind.Jeremy Fantl - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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References found in this work

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.
Epistemological puzzles about disagreement.Richard Feldman - 2006 - In Stephen Cade Hetherington (ed.), Epistemology futures. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 216-236.
The Methods of Ethics.Henry Sidgwick - 1890 - International Journal of Ethics 1 (1):120-121.

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