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Social Epistemology$
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Adrian Haddock, Alan Millar, and Duncan Pritchard

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199577477

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577477.001.0001

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A Justificationist View of Disagreement's Epistemic Significance

(p.298) 15 A Justificationist View of Disagreement's Epistemic Significance
Social Epistemology

Jennifer Lackey (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter developes a justificationist account of the significance of disagreement between epistemic peers. Whereas current views maintain that disagreement, by itself, either simply does or does not possess epistemic power, this chapter's account holds that its epistemic power, or lack thereof, is explainable in terms of the degree of justified confidence with which the belief in question is held. In this sense, the chapter rejects nonconformism—the absence of doxastic revision in the face of peer disagreement is never justified merely by virtue of the fact that the beliefs in question are either mine or are the product of correct reasoning—and conformism—substantial doxastic revision in the face of peer disagreement is never justified merely by virtue of equal weight being given to my own beliefs and to those held by my epistemic peers. Despite this, however, one advantage of my justificationist account is that it is able to explain why nonconformism provides the intuitively correct result in some cases, while conformism gives the intuitively correct result in other cases. A further advantage is that this chapter's justificationist account is generalizable in a way that neither of these rival views is.

Keywords:   conformism, disagreement in belief, doxastic revision, epistemic peers, justificationist epistemology, nonconformism

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