A diachronic perspective on peer disagreement in veritistic social epistemology

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Abstract

The main issue in the epistemology of peer disagreement is whether known disagreement among those who are in symmetrical epistemic positions undermines the rationality of their maintaining their respective views. Douven and Kelp have argued convincingly that this problem is best understood as being about how to respond to peer disagreement repeatedly over time, and that this diachronic issue can be best approached through computer simulation. However, Douven and Kelp’s favored simulation framework cannot naturally handle Christensen’s famous Mental Math example. As a remedy, I introduce an alternative (Bayesian) simulation framework, Laputa, inspired by Alvin Goldman’s seminal work on veritistic social epistemology. I show that Christensen’s conciliatory response, reasonably reconstructed and supplemented, gives rise to an increase in epistemic (veritistic) value only if the peers continue to recheck their mental math; else the peers might as well be steadfast. On a meta-level, the study illustrates the power of Goldman’s approach when combined with simulation techniques for handling the computational issues involved.

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  • Philosophy
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalSynthese
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2018 Sep 14
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes