Some Reluctant Skepticism about Rational Insight

International Journal for the Study of Skepticism:1-17 (forthcoming)
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There is much to admire in John Pittard’s recent book on the epistemology of disagreement. But here we develop one concern about the role that rational insight plays in his project. Pittard develops and defends a view on which a party to peer disagreement can show substantial partiality to his own view, so long as he enjoys even moderate rational insight into the truth of his view or the cogency of his reasoning for his view. Pittard argues that this may happen in ordinary cases of religious disagreement—cases in which it’s a live skeptical possibility that one is misdescribing his insight, or not having insight at all—and therefore one need not be strongly conciliatory even in the face of peer disagreement. Yet Pittard agrees that one should be strongly conciliatory in cases of disagreement involving, e.g., visual perception and dim rational insight, since the sort of fallible, corrigible evidence involved in such cases may be counterbalanced by symmetrical evidence on the part of one’s disagreeing peer. We worry that there’s an inconsistency here. If it’s unreasonable to show partiality to one’s visual experience (or dim rational insight) in cases like “Horse Race” and “Restaurant Check,” it’s likewise unreasonable to show partiality in religious disagreements to one’s moderate rational insight, fallible and corrigible as it is.

Author Profiles

Michael Alan Burton
Yale University
Tomas Bogardus
Pepperdine University


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