OSSA Day 2: Siegel on Disagreement

Harvey Siegel, “Argumentation and the epistemology of disagreement”

Q1: When epistemic peers disagree, what should the virtuous believer do?

Four possible responses: (i) give up the original belief and take on the other’s view, (ii) split the difference, meet in the middle, (iii) suspend judgment altogether, (iv) stck to our guns.

Q2: Does the depth of the disagreement matter?  E.g., Fogelin’s challenge on deep disagreement.

Siegel’s three theses: #1: The cases for disagreement are varied; #2: Peerhood is misunderstood, and #3: Fogelin’s deep disagreement view is inconsistent with the peer disagreeent view.

RE: peerhood.  Do peers have: same, equal, or equal access to evidence; same or equal intellectual virtues; same, roughly equal epistemic abilities; same, equal, or roughy equal training; same or roughly identical assumptions? Peerhood, if too strict, makes it so that there aren’t enough peers, but if too broad, makes near everyone a peer.

Fogelin’s deep disagreement: all the starting points are different, training different, and so on.  So there’s no room for real argument.  Argument requires that we have enough overlap to argue, but in deep cases, not enough overlap for argument.

The wittgensteinian turn – you don’t have to argue for or be justified in your ‘hinge propositons’.  Because hinge propositions are not intelligibly challengeable.

The evidentialist’s reply: (i) if there’s no argument or evidence for the view, you still must suspend, and (ii) what do you mean that hinge propositions aren’t intelligibly challengeable?  (That’s what a deep disagreement is, dude.)  The wittgensteinian line above is a form of infallibilism.  Yikes!

Siegel’s line: if Fogelin’s right about deep disagreement, then it’s not possible for there to be deep disagreements between peers.  If they are peers, the disagreement can’t be deep; if the disagreement is deep, they aren’t peers.  (This argument is awesome!)

Comment (R. Pinto):  Fallibilism can help with disagreement cases — you can maintain the belief, but look to discussion over time.

Q: Hinge propositions are beyond critical scrutiny, at least practically!

Q: Must deep disagreement have *no* common ground?  If there’s no common ground, it’s hard to see it as a disagreement at all – to recognize a disagreement, you need to have at least some common concepts and commitments.