Political Disagreement: Epistemic or Civic Peers?

In Michael Hannon & Jeroen de Ridder (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. New York: Routledge (2021)
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This chapter brings together debates in political philosophy and epistemology over what we should do when we disagree. While it might be tempting to think that we can apply one debate to the other, there are significant differences that may threaten this project. The specification of who qualifies as a civic or epistemic peer are not coextensive, utilizing different idealizations in denoting peerhood. In addition, the scope of disagreements that are relevant vary according to whether the methodology chosen falls within ideal theory or nonideal theory. Finally, the two literatures focus on different units of analysis that diverge according to the philosophical purpose behind their investigation of disagreement. Epistemologists analyze the rationality of individuals’ belief states whereas political philosophers focus on the just governance of a diverse society. Despite these differences, political epistemologists can learn valuable lessons by considering these debates side by side in order to provide insights that address a host of different challenges posed by political disagreement. The core lesson to draw from the disanalogies outlined in this paper is that to make progress, careful attention should be paid to specifying the goal of any particular project within political epistemology.

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Elizabeth Edenberg
Baruch College (CUNY)


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