Epistemic Permissivism and Reasonable Pluralism

In Michael Hannon & Jeroen De Ridder (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. New York, NY, USA: (2021)
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There is an intuitive difference in how we think about pluralism and attitudinal diversity in epistemological contexts versus political contexts. In an epistemological context, it seems problematically arbitrary to hold a particular belief on some issue, while also thinking it perfectly reasonable to hold a totally different belief on the same issue given the same evidence. By contrast, though, it doesn’t seem problematically arbitrary to have a particular set of political commitments, while at the same time thinking it perfectly reasonable for someone in a similar position have a totally different set of political commitments. This chapter examines three explanatory theses that might be used to make sense of this difference: (1) that practical commitments are desire dependent in a way that beliefs are not; (2) that there are reasons to be resolute in practical commitments, but not in beliefs; and (3) that compromise in the face of practical political disagreement doesn’t mitigate controversy, whereas compromise in the face of disagreement about mere beliefs does mitigate controversy.



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Author Profiles

R. A. Rowland
University of Leeds
Robert Mark Simpson
University College London

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