Episteme 18 (4):587-602 (2021)

Thomas Mulligan
Georgetown University
Disagreement is a ubiquitous feature of human life, and philosophers have dutifully attended to it. One important question related to disagreement is epistemological: How does a rational person change her beliefs (if at all) in light of disagreement from others? The typical methodology for answering this question is to endorse a steadfast or conciliatory disagreement norm (and not both) on a priori grounds and selected intuitive cases. In this paper, I argue that this methodology is misguided. Instead, a thoroughgoingly Bayesian strategy is what's needed. Such a strategy provides conciliatory norms in appropriate cases and steadfast norms in appropriate cases. I argue, further, that the few extant efforts to address disagreement in the Bayesian spirit are laudable but uncompelling. A modelling, rather than a functional, approach gets us the right norms and is highly general, allowing the epistemologist to deal with (1) multiple epistemic interlocutors, (2) epistemic superiors and inferiors (i.e. not just epistemic peers), and (3) dependence between interlocutors.
Keywords disagreement  Bayesian inference  probabilistic modelling  statistical independence  epistemic peerhood
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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.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
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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.

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