Posted on February 23, by Scott Alexander [Content warning: Discussion of social justice, discussion of violence, spoilers for Jacqueline Carey books. This post was inspired by a debate with a friend of a friend on Facebook who has since become somewhat famous. Andrew Cord criticizes me for my bold and controversial suggestion that maybe people should try to tell slightly fewer blatant hurtful lies:
For many of these beliefs, however, you know of people who disagree with you and are roughly as intelligent, informed, and open-minded as you are. How should you respond when you recognize this fact?
This is the epistemological problem of disagreement. The problem is that when peers disagree about some matter of fact, at least one of them must be incorrect: Peer disagreement is troubling because, since the peers are equally likely to be right, it is just as likely that one peer made a mistake as the other.
So, what is rational to do upon discovering that a peer disagrees? While you should seek out further evidence and double-check your reasoning, the central epistemological question concerns what you should believe. There are two main positions on the issue.
Conciliatory views of disagreement claim that upon discovering a peer disagreement you are rationally required to decrease your confidence in your belief, if not give up your belief altogether. Steadfast views of disagreement maintain that it can be rational to continue believing just as you did before.
Conciliatory Views Conciliatory views claim that, upon discovering that a peer disagrees with you about some claim, you should change your mind. There is a wide spectrum of conciliatory views depending upon how much change they claim is rationally required.
The most discussed conciliatory view is the Equal Weight view. So, if one peer believed that God exists and the other peer disbelieved that God exists, the Equal Weight view requires that both peers should now suspend judgment as to whether God exists: Two cases, among other considerations, support the Equal Weight view.
First, the Thermometer case: You and I are in the same room. We each have what we reasonably believe are equally reliable thermometers. To believe that the temperature is 72, simply because that is what my thermometer reads, would be arbitrarily biased.
The rational response, it seems, is to suspend judgment as to whether it is 72 and for whether it is Second, the Restaurant Check case: Five people go out to dinner. We all agree to split the check evenly, not worrying about who ordered what.
Again, given the disagreement, she should have no particular belief about each share of the bill, and neither should anyone else at the table.
Steadfast Views Not everyone agrees with these verdicts, or at least that the intuitive results of these examples generalize to other cases of peer disagreement. According to Steadfast views, it can be rational to keep believing just as you did before you found out your peer disagreed.
Several motivations have been given for steadfast views. Some think that it makes a difference who reasoned correctly. Going back to the check case, if Eve, in fact, did the math correctly, then this is an important difference. If she correctly evaluated her evidence, then she should keep believing as she did.
Learning that someone else made a mistake with the evidence should not make her give up her belief.
Should Eve still reduce her confidence or simply dismiss that calculation outright? The idea is that it makes a difference that you are one of the disagreeing parties. The trust that you place in yourself and your own faculties must come first unlike a thermometerso this can provide a symmetry breaker in the disagreement.Religious Epistemology.
Belief in God, or some form of transcendent Real, has been assumed in virtually every culture throughout human history. The issue of the reasonableness or rationality of belief in God or particular beliefs about God typically arises when a religion is confronted with religious competitors or the rise of atheism or .
The Epistemology of Disagreement brings together essays from a dozen philosophers on the epistemic significance of disagreement; all but one of the essays are new.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a work by John Locke concerning the foundation of human knowledge and understanding. It first appeared in (although dated ) with the printed title An Essay Concerning Humane yunusemremert.com describes the mind at birth as a blank slate (tabula rasa, although he did not use those .
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Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief contains fourteen original essays by philosophers, theologians.
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