The Methodologically Flawed Discussion about Deep Disagreement

Episteme:1-17 (forthcoming)
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Questions surrounding deep disagreement have gained significant attention in recent years. One of the central debates is metaphysical, focusing on the features that make a disagreement deep. Proposals for what makes disagreements deep include theories about hinge propositions and first epistemic principles. In this paper, I criticize this metaphysical discussion by arguing that it is methodologically flawed. Deep disagreement is a technical or semi-technical term, but the metaphysical discussion mistakenly treats it as a common-sense concept to be analyzed and captured by our pre-theoretical intuitions. Since the literature on deep disagreement is subject to this fundamental confusion and deep disagreement is not a helpful umbrella term either, I propose eliminating the notion of deep disagreement from the philosophical discourse. Instead of analyzing the nature of deep disagreement, we should develop theories about different forms of disagreement, including disagreement about hinge propositions and disagreement about epistemic principles, and, in particular, a theory of rationally irresolvable disagreement.

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Guido Melchior
University of Graz


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