Disagreement and Public Controversy

In Jennifer Lackey (ed.), Essays in Collective Epistemology. Oxford University Press (2014)
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One of Mill’s main arguments for free speech springs from taking disagreement as an epistemically valuable resource for fallible thinkers. Contemporary conciliationist treatments of disagreement spring from the same motivation, but end up seeing the epistemic implications of disagreement quite differently. Conciliationism also encounters complexities when transposed from the 2-person toy examples featured in the literature to the public disagreements among groups that give the issue much of its urgency. Group disagreements turn out to be in some ways more powerful defeaters of rational belief, even when opposing groups are comparable in size and epistemic credentials. And conciliationism also shows us why determining the rational response to these disagreements can in certain cases (e.g. politics) be a particularly difficult and nuanced matter.
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