Disagreement: Idealized and Everyday

In Jonathan Matheson Rico Vitz (ed.), The Ethics of Belief: Individual and Social. Oxford University Press. pp. 315-330 (2014)
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While puzzles concerning the epistemic significance of disagreement are typically motivated by looking at the widespread and persistent disagreements we are aware of, almost all of the literature on the epistemic significance of disagreement has focused on cases idealized peer disagreement. This fact might itself be puzzling since it doesn’t seem that we ever encounter disagreements that meet the relevant idealized conditions. In this paper I hope to somewhat rectify this matter. I begin by closely examining what an idealized case of peer disagreement looks like and what the Equal Weight View (EWV) of disagreement claims about the epistemic significance of such disagreements. After briefly defending the verdicts of the EWV in idealized disagreements I proceed to unpack the implications of stripping away the idealized conditions. In doing I show both why it is important to focus on idealized cases of peer disagreement and what we can learn from such cases that applies to the everyday cases of disagreement of which we are very familiar.

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Jonathan Matheson
University of North Florida


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