Keynote Speakers

Speakers at the 2021 Agreement and Disagreement Beyond Ethics and Epistemology Conference

Keynote I – Max Kölbel (Vienna)

“Disagreement and Truth”

Abstract: Sometimes when people disagree, we know that at least one of the disagreeing parties must be wrong. For example, suppose that you believe there are 20 people on the bus and I believe there are fewer. Then we know that at least one of us is wrong. Some disagreements, however, seem not to be like that. For example, when I believe that swimming in the lake is pleasant, and you believe that it is not, it is not so clear that one of us must be wrong. Perhaps it pleases me, so I am right to believe it to be pleasant, and it does not please you, so it is wrong for you to believe it to be pleasant. To have a label for this, let’s say that the latter type of disagreement is “discretionary”, the former not.

However, there is a simple argument that purports to show, from plausible-sounding premisses about truth and its significance, that in every disagreement someone must be wrong. This would mean that there are no discretionary disagreements, despite appearances. The talk explores this apparent connection between truth and disagreement. It explains the simple argument in several versions, presents some purported counterexamples to its conclusion and discusses how the argument could be resisted, or how its conclusion can be made to seem more palatable.

Keynote II – Mona Simion (Glasgow)

“Disagreement, Knowledge-First”
(based on a paper with F. Broncano-Berrocal)

Abstract: The first aim of this talk is to argue that the peer-disagreement-first approach to the epistemology of disagreement suffers from a lack of generalizability, in that the prospects of stripping off idealizations and generalising our results to cases of every-day disagreement are dim. The second aim is positive: it investigates the prospects of an alternative, knowledge-first approach to disagreement. This approach takes knowledge to be the central value of the epistemic domain, and norms governing moves in this domain – such as belief in the face of disagreement – to drop right out of this value. I first (§3) look at a knowledge-first view of disagreement defended by John Hawthorne and Amia Srinivasan, and argue that it remains unsatisfactory at two normative junctures. Second, I put forth my view of the normative structure of disagreement cases – according to which, roughly, when faced with disagreement, one should improve one’s doxastic statusin terms of closeness to knowledge , or else hold steadfast.

Keynote III – Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern)

“Agreement and Echo Chambers”

Keynote IV – Crispin Wright (Stirling/NYU)

"Alethic Pluralism, Deflationism and Faultless Disagreement"

One of the most important “folk” anti-realist thoughts about certain areas of our thought and discourse—basic taste, for instance, or comedy—is that their lack of objectivity crystallises in the possibility of “faultless disagreements”: situations where one party accepts P, another rejects P, and neither is guilty of any kind of mistake of substance or shortcoming of cognitive process. On close inspection, however, it proves challenging to make coherent sense of this idea, and a majority of theorists have come to reject it as incoherent. There are two significant exceptions in the contemporary literature: relativists often hold it up as something of a coup for their view that it can make straightforward sense of faultless disagreement; and the author of this paper has argued (Wright 2006) that making judicious intuitionistic revisions to classical logic can provide resources that suffice to stabilise the notion. The present paper argues that neither relativism nor intuitionism in fact provides a satisfactory account and indicates how an alethic pluralist framework enables us to do better.

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