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The Philosophy of Disagreement: a workshop

Frederick Choo, a philosophy student at NTU, has agreed to lead a workshop for us on the philosophy of disagreement. This should not only be of interest to many of us, but also perhaps help understand what is happening when we disagree (as we frequently do!). This will be a little different to our usual format, so come prepared to learn and perhaps change your mind!

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  • Kern S.

    A thought experiment. Suppose that 10 credible individuals go to court claiming Mr X broke into their individual homes and is logistically possible for Mr X to do so. And suppose that police found no hard empirical evidence of Mr X committing the 10 break-ins, or his whereabouts during the break-ins. So what we have are only the 10 private experiences of Mr X committing the crime. Should the judge pass a sentence or acquit Mr X?

    Yesterday

    • Damien M.

      Response to Chloe:

      There is no subjective nor objective manner in which to determine the Judge is an epistemological superior to the defendant, plaintiffs, jury, journalists or anyone else present in the courtroom.

      This mass overload of variables renders the original query moot - it is not philosophical, merely speculative. Essentially the only way to bend these arguments into a philosophical discussion would be to do something like postulate it is a group of friends playing a "Who done it" board-game, removing the influence of the strict rule of law and the unreliability of witness testimony and forensics.

      Personal opinion only, if the question was re-framed in a way where the 10 people believed something, one person did not, and an arbiter was called in to settle the dispute in a non-scientific fashion, we'd get closer to a philosophical debate worth having.

      Yesterday

    • Koo Z.

      Damien,

      Totally agreed. Kern motivated the thought experiment by invoking a familiar context. But for the sake of finding out the utility of private experiences (which I presume is what the thought experiment was created for in the first place), we have to impose certain restrictions and deviate from real life.

      If a problem were too abstract, it would be hard to think about, hence the familiar context in the first place.

      Yesterday

  • Abiram

    Disagreeing with someone without trying to take away their freedom of expression is very Utopian. In other words it's just fiction !

    1 · November 28

    • Abiram

      “The human being is an unequal creature. That is a fact. And we start off with the proposition. All the great religions, all the great movements, all the great political ideology, say let us make the human being as equal as possible. In fact, he is not equal, never will be.”
      – Lee Kuan Yew, from a speech during the 1960s, Success Stories

      6 days ago

    • Mark

      First of all,
      "All the great religions, all the great movements, all the great political ideology, say let us make the human being as equal as possible."
      ---> Not true. There have been plenty of major ideologies, religions and movements that recognise and permit inequality in one form or another. LKY was for the sake of rhetorical flourish making a grandiose sweeping over-generalisation, not a historically accurate description.

      Secondly, there is abundant empirical evidence contradicting your claim that anyone with the power to censor expression of views they disagree with will always try to do so. I highly doubt the government agrees with books espousing Anarchism, Libertarianism, Communism, S'porean dissident perspectives and revisionist S'porean political history -- all of which are publicly available from the national library here despite the government having the power to ban them.

      2 · 6 days ago

  • DLJ

    Why did he agree to do this?

    1 · November 27

    • Frederick C.

      Nope. Haha.

      1 · November 28

    • DLJ

      Hehe. It's hard to disagree with that. :-)

      November 28

  • Frederick C.

    The talk is on the Epistemology of Disagreement. We often end up in disagreements and agree to disagree. Are we reasonable to do so? How should disagreement affect what we ought to rationally believe? In the main part of the workshop, we will look at current work on the epistemology of disagreement. The main idea is this:
    Suppose two equally intelligent people look at some evidence and believe they are equally intelligent. One believes proposition p, while the other believes not-p. They discuss the issue fully. Having shared all evidence and reasoning, can they be rational to hold fast to their initial beliefs? Disagreement seems to imply at least one party is wrong. Since we have no dispute-independent reason to think that we are right, shouldn’t we withhold our beliefs? Lastly, I will focus on religious disagreement and argue that the literature does not apply to actual religious disagreements. Then, I will advance a skeptical argument that I am working on and discuss it.

    Fred

    November 18

    • Henry Chew Zi C.

      So how should we revise our beliefs in light of (peer) disagreement (which is also based on testimonial evidence)?

      Would we like to question the evidence ? Or would we like to question the position? Or would we like to question the agreement (or disagreement)?

      November 24

    • Frederick C.

      You can see the two links Mark posted to see the variety of views.

      November 25

  • Mark

    From what's been said I gather this is what'll be discussed, more or less?

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology-social/#PeeDis

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/rel-disa/#H5

    November 24

  • Koo Z.

    Is there a more detailed scope of discussion? Are we discussing why disagreement occurs, from a social or physiological or psychological perspective? Is there mention of truth in discussion? Is there discussion of how to resolve disagreements?

    November 18

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