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Volume 49 • Number 3

July 2012



Conciliation and Peer-Demotion in the Epistemology of Disagreement

by Juan Comesana

What should your reaction be when you find out that someone that you consider an "epistemic peer" disagrees with you? Two broad approaches to this question have gained support from different philosophers. Precise characterizations of these approaches will be given later, but consider for now the following approximations. First, there is the "conciliatory" approach, according to which the right reaction to a disagreement is to move one's opinion towards that of one's peer, in proportion to the degree of trust that one accords to that peer—for instance, if you thought that, in case of disagreement, you are equally likely to be right, then the conciliatory approach would have it that you should meet your epistemic peer halfway. The other, "nonconciliatory" approach, holds that one's reaction to a disagreement need not be perfectly in line with one's prior degree of trust in the other party. Notice an important asymmetry between these two approaches: the conciliatory approach has it that conciliation is the right reaction to any disagreement, whereas the nonconciliatory approach has it that there are some possible disagreements the correct reaction to which is not to conciliate (or not to the extent mandated by conciliatory views). This article examines the dispute between conciliatory and nonconciliatory views by distinguishing and examining possible answers to four different questions.

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ISSN: 2152-1123