Peer-Disagreement about Restaurant Bills and Abortion

A Conciliationist Response to Peer Disagreement Does Not Lead to Scepticism in Ethics

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien
Martin Sticker Trinity College Dublin,

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The author defends Conciliationism as a response to peer-disagreement in ethics against a prominent objection: if in cases of peer-disagreement we have to move our credences towards those of our dissenting peers, then we have to adopt scepticism in fields where disagreement between peers abounds. For this objection, the case of ethics is particularly worrisome. The author argues that the objection from scepticism is based on a highly idealised notion of an epistemic peer. In cases of disagreement about ethical issues, it is often unknown to us what another person counts as her evidence, since one’s notions of what counts as evidence and what weight to attach to different forms of evidence are impacted by one’s global outlook. Being aware of what an agent considers as evidence requires familiarity with that agent’s global outlook. This introduces two constraints on epistemic peerhood in cases of disagreement about ethics: an epistemic constraint (I might not be sufficiently aware of what someone counts as evidence, and hence not consider that person a peer), and a factual constraint (we might disregard each other’s evidence, and hence not consider each other peers).

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