I just know I’m right – what to do when you feel this in religious and philosophical disagreement
October 15, 2013 — 5:28

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Religious Belief  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 10

[note: this blogpost collects some scattered thoughts I hope to organize in article form sooner rather than later, for my British Academy project on religious social epistemology, see here]

There is an ongoing debate what we should do when we are confronted with disagreement with an epistemic peer; someone who is as knowledgeable and intellectually virtuous in the domain in question. Should we revise our beliefs (conciliationism), or not engage in any doxastic revision (steadfastness)? Epistemologists aim to settle this question in a principled way, hoping general principles like conciliationism and steadfastness can offer a solution not only for the toy examples that are being invoked, but also for real-world cases that we care passionately about, such as scientific, religious, political and philosophical disagreements. However, such cases have proven to be a hard nut to crack. A referee once commented on a paper I submitted on epistemic peer disagreement in science  that the notion of epistemic peer in scientific practice was useless. S/he said “It works for simple cases like two spectators who disagree on which horse finished first, but when it comes to two scientists who disagree whether a fossil is a Homo floresiensis or Homo sapiens, the notion is just utterly useless.” 

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