HFIA03732U Modul 4: The epistemology of disagreement

Volume 2014/2015
Master in Philosophy

The aim of the course is to introduce to the epistemology of disagreement, while at the same time supporting participants writing process. We often disagree about the facts, and this raise important question about what the rational response is. Suppose that Anton and Bert disagree about the proposition that global climate change is a fact, say because Anton believes it while Bert rejects the truth of it. Suppose that Anton and Bert are epistemic peers with regard to this question, that is, individuals who with are equally competent and careful, and share all evidence and background assumptions. How should Anton and Bert react to the fact that they disagree with one another, knowing that they are peers? Should Anton become less confident in his view? Or should he remain steadfast, and perhaps reject his previous assumption that Bert is his peer in these matters?

In the first part of the course we will study the main contributions in the debate on peer disagreement. In the more advanced parts of the course we will move on to what one might call complex disagreements. Disagreements can have varying degrees of complexity where the simplest concern two epistemic peers with diverging beliefs about the truth of a single, factual proposition. However, more may (i) involve larger sets of propositions that are interrelated and basic in various ways, say because they involve fundamental assumptions about the nature of the world, proper sources of evidence, or sound epistemic principles, (ii) involve other items than mere doxastic attitudes to factual propositions, e.g., elements of faith or trust, or attitudes such as openness or tolerance, (iii) involve agents with the actual psychology of human beings, (iv) involve different numbers of agents.

Learning Outcome
The Master’s Programme in Philosophy 2014:
Module 4, Contemporary Philosophical Discussion: HFIK03731E

The Master’s Programme in Philosophy 2008:
Module 2, Freely chosen topic A: HFIK03521E
Module 4, Freely chosen topic B: HFIK03541E
Module 5, Freely chosen topic C: HFIK03551E
Module 6, Freely chosen topic D: HFIK03561E
Module 7, Freely chosen topic E: HFIK03571E
We will start by reading a number of classical contributions in the epistemology of disagreement selected from Disagreement, eds. Feldman & Warfield, Oxford University Press, 2010, and The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays, eds. David Christensen & Jennifer Lackey, Oxford University Press, 2013. Additional readings will be identified by course participants as a part of the process of writing their assignments.
There are no formal requirements for signing up to the course, but participants must be prepared to take part in feedback sessions and other collective activities that support the writing process. No prior knowledge of social epistemology of disagreement is needed. Familiarity with analytical philosophy is an advantage, but not strictly required. Some familiarity with writing assignments in analytical philosophy will be an advantage, but is not required. The language of instruction will be English. Assignments can be written in English or in Danish.

In rough outline the course will have the following format (subject to changes). The course offers 14 sessions, and we generally meet once a week:

Session 1-6
Introduction to the basic topics in the philosophy of disagreement. Discussion of paper topics, paper-writing strategies, strategies for finding literature, practices of feedback giving,

Session 7-8
Feedback on midterm assignments. Students give feedback on midterm papers written by other students.

Session 9 -14
In depth discussion of selected topics in the philosophy of disagreement. The topics selected will depend on what participants address in their essays. Continuous feedback on papers in progress, continuous discussion of the challenges in paper-writing.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 42
  • Course Preparation
  • 367,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
For details, see the curriculum.
Criteria for exam assesment