SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Steadfast Views of Disagreement are Incoherent
(Epistemology, English)

I argue that Steadfast Views of peer disagreement ? a family of views according to which standing firm in the face of peer disagreement can be rationally permissible - are incoherent. First, I articulate two constraints that any Steadfast Views of disagreement should endorse:

Steadfastness's Core: Sometimes, the evidence of disagreement can make it rationally permissible for you to ignore your epistemic peer's opinion completely. The Deference Principle: Absent any reason to call a peer's testimony into question, you should defer to the peer's judgment completely.

I show that (i) and (ii) are inconsistent: they cannot both be true. Because Steadfast Views endorse a set of mutually inconsistent propositions, I conclude that Steadfast Views are incoherent.

The starting point of my paper is the following question: what should your credence in H be, given that you disagree with equally reliable and informed other, i.e., your epistemic peer (let's call her Nina). The Deference Principle (Deference for short) alone does not determine the answer to the questions. This is so, because, the evidence of disagreement calls into question the accuracy or rationality of Nina's credence in H.

However, there is still an interesting, logical connection between Steadfastness's Core and Deference. According to Steadfastness's Core, sometimes the evidence of disagreement makes the opinion of an epistemic advisor conditionally independent of the disputed proposition.

Now the question that I want to consider is as follows: (Q) What is it about the evidence of disagreement that makes the initially relevant information entirely irrelevant to the value of P(H)? I will concentrate on two possible answers to (Q), which I refer to as the A-explanation and the B-explanation: A-explanation: Your relevant belief is founded on or caused by richer available evidence than Nina's relevant belief. B-explanation: You're not rationally required to modify your own belief about H, when you and your peer adopt different epistemic standards. I consider both explanations and show that they cannot account for why the belief of your epistemic peer is entirely probabilistically irrelevant to P(H). Thus, after answering some objections, I conclude that Steadfast Views of disagreement are incoherent.

Time: 11:20-11:50, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: HS E.002

Tamaz Tokhadze 
(University of Sussex, United Kingdom)

I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sussex. I have completed my BA in philosophy at Ilia State University (Georgia) and my MA in philosophy at the University of Tartu (Estonia).

In my Ph.D. research I aim to develop an objective, non-Bayesian view of evidential support and investigate what legitimate role should non-evidential, subjective factors -- e.g. one's epistemic standards, goals, and prior beliefs -- have in determining what one ought to believe. In my project, I use various formal and conceptual tools from Bayesian statistics and decision theory to address some of the central issues in epistemology.

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