What is the significance of disagreement? (Talk given at American University of Beirut)


Over the past ten years, studies of epistemically significant disagreement have ignored the fundamental question—what is the significance of disagreement?—focusing instead on whose disagreement qualifies as significant. Ignoring the basic question has led epistemologists to assume that the consequences of disagreement are more drastic than they are. These philosophers try to avoid sceptical consequences by imposing a rubric to discriminate between opponents on the basis of epistemic fitness—a strategy that is neither viable nor necessary.

Investigation of the epistemic significance of disagreement will show that that significance is not limited to the disagreements of only a certain class of opponents, nor does it call for a sceptical response. Once the significance of disagreement is understood it will be possible to consider a wider range of appropriate responses to disagreement.

Fear of Controversy (Talk at LAU Philosophy Club)