The Limits of Faultless Disagreement

Abstract

Some have argued that the possibility of faultless disagreement gives relativist semantic theories an important explanatory advantage over their absolutist and contextualist rivals. Here I combat this argument, focusing on the specific case of aesthetic discourse. My argument has two stages. First, I argue that while relativists may be able to account for the possibility of faultless aesthetic disagreement, they nevertheless face difficulty in accounting for the intuitive limits of faultless disagreement. Second, I develop a new non-relativist theory which can account for the full range of data regarding faultless disagreement. This view—‘Humean Absolutism’—integrates two of Hume’s central principles from Of the Standard of Taste into a truth-conditional framework, resulting in a non-bivalent theory of aesthetic truth. I argue that Humean Absolutism can underwrite the possibility of faultless disagreement whilst retaining reasonable limits around the phenomenon. I close by relating this positive account of faultless disagreement to broader issues concerning the cognitive role of truth-value gaps. *NB - this is an unpublished paper and is no longer in progress.*

Author's Profile

Carl Baker
University of Leeds (PhD)

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