Disagreement, Deep Time, and Progress in Philosophy

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
Author: Kirk Lougheed
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  • McMaster University

The epistemology of disagreement examines the question of how an agent ought to respond to awareness of epistemic peer disagreement about one of her beliefs. The literature on this topic, ironically enough, represents widespread disagreement about how we should respond to disagreement. I argue for the sceptical conclusion that the existence of widespread disagreement throughout the history of philosophy, and right up until the present day indicates that philosophers are highly unreliable at arriving at the truth. If truth convergence indicates progress in a field, then there is little progress in philosophy. This sceptical conclusion, however, need not make us give up philosophizing: That we should currently be sceptical of our philosophical beliefs is a contingent fact. We are an intellectually immature species and given the existence of the deep future we have some reason to think that there will be truth-convergence in philosophy in the future.

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