Disagreements, of belief and otherwise

Duncan Pritchard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Much of the work on the epistemology of disagreement tends, not unreasonably, to take such disagreements to be at the level of belief. I elaborate some of the reasons why we might have this particular focus, and part of that involves arguing that as epistemologists by ‘belief’ we have in mind a specific propositional attitude. As we will see,with belief so understood it is hard to see how an exchange could constitute a genuine disagreement without conflict of belief. Relatedly, I explore a certain core class of‘disagreements’ that I contend are in fact nothing of the kind when properly understood, since there is no conflict of belief, and hence lack the epistemic import that we might have expected them to have. But while I agree that the main cases of epistemic relevance do involve disagreement about belief, I nonetheless argue that we miss out something important if we confine our attention to just these cases. In particular, I argue that belief isn’t necessary for disagreement, and offer an alternative proposal about the nature of disagreements. While some cases of genuine disagreement without conflict of belief are not epistemically interesting,I argue that there is at least one exception in this regard. To this end I will be exploring disagreements at the level of our hinge commitments, which I maintain are not beliefs. As we will see, understanding the structure of these kinds of disagreements helps us to understand that certain strategies for resolving them would be hopeless.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVoicing Dissent
Subtitle of host publicationThe Ethics and Epistemology of Making Disagreement Public
EditorsCasey Rebecca Johnson
ISBN (Print)9781138744288
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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