Synthese 198 (4):3183-3202 (2019)

Kirk Lougheed
University of Pretoria
Conciliationism is the view that an agent must revise her belief in a proposition when she becomes aware that there is an epistemic peer who disagrees with her about that proposition. If epistemic peers are anything less than strict cognitive and evidential equals, then even slight differences could explain away why the two parties disagree in the first place. But this strict notion of peerhood never obtains in many, if not most, of real-life cases disagreements between inquirers. One recent account of peerhood which might obtain more frequently in cases of real-life disagreements comes from Elgin Voicing dissent: the ethics and epistemology of making disagreement public, Routledge, New York, pp 10–21, 2018). She argues that two scientists who are epistemic peers can disagree because while they might have the same reasoning abilities, they can have different reasoning styles. While there are merits to Elgin’s account, I argue that two people with different reasoning styles are unlikely to be epistemic peers since such differences could serve to explain away why they disagree. I argue that there is a conception of peerhood which can retain the sceptical force of conciliationism without trivializing or dismissing the problem of disagreement. I then conclude that a particularly attractive argument against conciliationism is gestured at by Elgin in one of her earlier pieces on disagreement. This argument is based on the idea that there are epistemic benefits to be gained from remaining steadfast in the face of disagreement Disagreement, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 53–68, 2010). The success of this argument, however, might force an inquirer faced with disagreement to choose between synchronic reasons and diachronic reasons. If Hughes’ recent defense of epistemic dilemmism is correct this may be a feature of the argument, rather than a bug.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02274-x
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References found in this work BETA

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.
Peer Disagreement and Higher Order Evidence.Thomas Kelly - 2010 - In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press. pp. 183--217.
Epistemological Puzzles About Disagreement.Richard Feldman - 2006 - In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), Epistemology Futures. Oxford University Press. pp. 216-236.
Epistemic Permissiveness.Roger White - 2005 - Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):445–459.

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