Disagreement and Authority: comparing ecclesial and scientific practices

In A. J. Carroll, M. Kerkwijk, M. Kirwan & J. Sweeney (eds.), Towards a Kenotic Vision of Authority in the Catholic Church. Washington: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. pp. 91-102 (2015)
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In recent years, disagreement as a philosophical topic has started to attract considerable attention, giving rise to rich debates not only on the logical nature of disagreement but also on specifically political and religious forms of it. Moreover, in some recent documents of the Catholic Church, we see corresponding attempts at understanding religious pluralism, dialogue among religions, and doctrinal tensions that sometimes arise within various parts of the Church itself. In such debates, many assume that the realm of the humanities is clearly distinct from that of the natural sciences and, as a consequence, the dynamics of disagreement within the two realms is distinct as well. This paper challenges this assumption. Sociological studies of science are undermining the idea of a strict dichotomy between the dynamics of disagreement within the sciences and that within other areas of inquiry. Engaging in comparative methodology, this paper critically evaluates the dynamics of ecclesial disagreement and the associated idea of doctrinal authority by comparing them with what happens in the sciences.

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Louis Caruana
Pontificia Universita Gregoriana


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