Arrogance and deep disagreement

In Alessandra Tanesini & Michael P. Lynch (eds.), Polarisation, Arrogance, and Dogmatism: Philosophical Perspectives. London: Routledge. pp. 39-52 (2020)
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I intend to bring recent work applying virtue theory to the study of argument to bear on a much older problem, that of disagreements that resist rational resolution, sometimes termed "deep disagreements". Just as some virtue epistemologists have lately shifted focus onto epistemic vices, I shall argue that a renewed focus on the vices of argument can help to illuminate deep disagreements. In particular, I address the role of arrogance, both as a factor in the diagnosis of deep disagreements and as an obstacle to their mutually acceptable resolution. Arrogant arguers are likely to make any disagreements to which they are party seem deeper than they really are and arrogance impedes the strategies that we might adopt to resolve deep disagreements. As a case in point, since arrogant or otherwise vicious arguers cannot be trusted not to exploit such strategies for untoward ends, any policy for deep disagreement amelioration must require particularly close attention to the vices of argument, lest they be exploited by the unscrupulous.

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Andrew Aberdein
Florida Institute of Technology


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