Intellectual Humility, Knowledge-How and Disagreement

J. Adam Carter, Duncan Pritchard

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

Abstract

A familiar point in the literature on the epistemology of disagreement is that in the face of disagreement with a recognised epistemic peer the epistemically virtuous agent should adopt a stance of intellectual humility. That is, the virtuous agent should take a conciliatory stance and reduce her commitment to the proposition under dispute (e.g., Elga 2007; Feldman 2004; Christensen 2007). In this paper, we ask the question of how such intellectual humility would manifest itself in a corresponding peer disagreement regarding knowledge-how. We argue that while it is relatively straightforward to recast this debate in terms of a reductive intellectualist account of knowledge-how (e.g., Stanley & Williamson 2001; Stanley 2011a; 2011b; Brogaard 2008; 2009; 2011), whereby knowledge-how just is a matter of having a particular propositional attitude, the issue becomes more complex once we turn to anti-intellectualist positions (e.g., Ryle 1945; 1949; Poston 2009; Carter & Pritchard 2013; 2014). On these views, after all, such a disagreement won’t be just a matter of disagreeing about the truth of a proposition. Accordingly, to the extent that some kind of conciliation is plausibly required of the virtuous agent in the face of a recognised peer disagreement, this conciliation will not consist simply in belief revision. We propose a novel way to address this problem. We claim that what is required of the epistemically virtuous agent when confronted with peer disagreement regarding knowing how to φ is that thereafter she should be disposed to employ her way of φ-ing across a narrower range of practical circumstances than beforehand. Moreover, just as an agent needs to call on her intellectual virtues in order to determine the extent of conciliation required in an ordinary case of epistemic peer disagreement, so the intellectual virtues will play an important role in determining this shift in dispositions to φ that occurs as regards epistemic peer disagreement about knowledge-how.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMoral and Intellectual Virtues in Western and Chinese Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationThe Turn Toward Virtue
EditorsChienknuo Mi, Michael Slote, Ernest Sosa
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge
Pages49-63
ISBN (Electronic)9781315683935
ISBN (Print)9781138925168
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • intellectual virtue
  • intellectual humility
  • disagreement
  • knowledge-how

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