Sustaining a Rational Disagreement [chapter]

Christoph Kelp, Igor Douven
2011 EPSA Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009  
Much recent discussion in social epistemology has focussed on the question of whether peers can rationally sustain a disagreement. A growing number of social epistemologists hold that the answer is negative. We point to considerations from the history of science that favor rather the opposite answer. However, we also explain how the other position can appear intuitively attractive. Disagreements are numerous in this world. There are disagreements about matters of taste: some people like
more » ... st art while others do not; some like oysters, others detest them. However, the scope of disagreement extends beyond the realm of the subjective, well into the realm of the objective. People disagree for instance about matters political-should taxes be raised?-religious-does God exist?-philosophical-do we have freedom of the will?-and scientific-is the universe infinite? While it is fairly uncontroversial that people disagree in a variety of areas of thought, there is an interesting normative question concerning the epistemic status of such disagreements. More specifically, the question has been raised whether there can ever be rational disagreements among agents who take each other to be epistemic peers on a certain question. To say that a number of agents are epistemic peers concerning a question, Q, is to say, first, that they are equally well positioned evidentially with respect to Q, second, that they have considered Q with equal care, and, third, that they are equally gifted with intellectual virtues, cognitive skills and the like. 1 For epistemic peers to rationally disagree on Q is for them to justifiably hold different doxastic attitudes concerning Q. 2 Finally, of special interest in the debate on peer disagreement is the question whether epistemic peers can rationally sustain a disagreement after full disclosure, that is, once they have shared all their relevant evidence as well as announced the respective doxastic attitudes they arrived at.
doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2404-4_10 fatcat:4zzcwgisbrbqfiidhn5v7mjlwq