A Neo-Pyrrhonian Approach to the Epistemology of Disagreement

In D. E. Machuca (ed.), Disagreement and Skepticism. Routledge. pp. 66-89 (2013)
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Abstract

This paper approaches the current epistemological debate on peer disagreement from a neo-Pyrrhonian perspective, thus adopting a form of skepticism which is more radical than those discussed in the literature. It makes use of argumentative strategies found in ancient Pyrrhonism both to show that such a debate rests on problematic assumptions and to block some maneuvers intended to offer an efficacious way of settling a considerable number of peer disputes. The essay takes issue with three views held in the peer disagreement debate: there is an objective fact of the matter about at least most controversial questions; we possess theory-neutral evidence bearing on those questions which grants us access to the truth of the matter; and many peer controversies are resolved by attending to which disputant has correctly evaluated the objective evidence. With respect to the first two views, it is argued that the belief in both objective facts and theory-neutral evidence is subject to fierce dispute, and should not therefore be taken for granted in the discussion of peer disagreement. As for the third view, it is argued that from either a first- or a third-person perspective, there seems to be epistemic symmetry between the disputants which makes it necessary to suspend judgment.

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