Reversibility or Disagreement

Mind 122 (485):43-84 (2013)
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Abstract
The phenomenon of disagreement has recently been brought into focus by the debate between contextualists and relativist invariantists about epistemic expressions such as ‘might’, ‘probably’, indicative conditionals, and the deontic ‘ought’. Against the orthodox contextualist view, it has been argued that an invariantist account can better explain apparent disagreements across contexts by appeal to the incompatibility of the propositions expressed in those contexts. This paper introduces an important and underappreciated phenomenon associated with epistemic expressions — a phenomenon that we call reversibility. We argue that the invariantist account of disagreement is incompatible with reversibility, and we go on to show that reversible sentences cast doubt on the putative data about disagreement, even without assuming invariantism. Our argument therefore undermines much of the motivation for invariantism, and provides a new source for constraints on the proper explanation of purported data about disagreement
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