The Conciliatory View in Peer Disagreement and the Problem of Highly Justified BeliefsNusret Erdi Elmacı
Peer disagreement refers to subjects who are epistemically equivalent or accept being equivalent to each other who then adopt opposing beliefs based on the same evidence. Which epistemic attitude is rational is debatable in the face of such a conflict. According to the conciliatory approach, the rational reaction in a peer disagreement is that the subjects think they have a flaw in themselves and suspend their conflicting beliefs. However, Lackey (2010) opposed the conciliatory thesis that the subject should doubt themself in the case of peer disagreement. According to Lackey, the rational response for a subject with highly justified beliefs would be to look for fault in the other person. Then, the subject may believe that the person who had initially been accepted as epistemically equal would no longer be considered a peer. Therefore, according to Lackey, the conciliatory thesis is erroneous. In response to Lackey’s objection, Christensen (2011) agreed with Lackey with regard to disagreements being about highly justified beliefs but did not feel that this contradicted the conciliatory approach. However, this defense from Christensen raises another problem: In some cases, the subject’s belief that the other person is not a peer yields a result that is inconsistent with the conciliatory view. Therefore, which situations this belief can be preserved despite the conflict needs to be clarified. This article argues that highly justified beliefs do not always provide a justifiable reason for subjects to believe the other person is not their peer. In this way, the study will attempt to show that Christensen’s defense needs to be revised.
Akran Anlaşmazlığında Uzlaşımcılık ve Yüksek Düzeyde Gerekçeli İnançlar ProblemiNusret Erdi Elmacı
Epistemik açıdan birbirine denk olan ya da denk olduklarını kabul eden öznelerin aynı delillere dayanarak birbirine karşıt inançlar benimsemeleri akran anlaşmazlığı olarak adlandırılır. Böyle bir ihtilaf durumu karşısında hangi epistemik tutumun rasyonel olduğu tartışmalıdır. Uzlaşımcı yaklaşıma göre, bir akran anlaşmazlığında rasyonel olan reaksiyon öznelerin kendilerinde bir kusur olduğunu düşünmeleri ve ihtilaf konusu inançlarını askıya almalarıdır. Buna karşın Lackey, akran anlaşmazlığı durumlarında öznenin kendisinden şüphe etmesi gerektiğini ileri süren uzlaşımcı teze karşı çıkar. Ona göre yüksek düzeyde gerekçeli inançlar söz konusuysa, öznenin kusuru karşısındakinde araması rasyonel bir reaksiyondur. O halde, özne başlangıçta epistemik bakımdan akranı kabul ettiği kişinin bundan böyle akranı olmadığına inanabilir. Bu nedenle, Lackey’e göre uzlaşımcı tez hatalıdır. Lackey’nin itirazına cevap olarak Christensen, yüksek düzeyde gerekçelendirilmiş inançlarla ilgili anlaşmazlıklarda Lackey’e hak vermekle birlikte, bunun uzlaşımcı yaklaşıma karşıt bir durum oluşturmadığını düşünmektedir. Ancak, Christensen’ın bu savunması bir başka soruna yol açmaktadır. Problem şu ki, bazı durumlarda öznenin, karşısındakinin akranı olmadığına inanması uzlaşımcı görüşle uyumsuz bir sonuç verir. Dolayısıyla, anlaşmazlığa rağmen hangi durumlarda benimsenen inancın korunabileceğinin netleştirilmesi gerekmektedir. Bu makalede, yüksek düzeyde gerekçeli inançların, özneler için karşısındakinin akranı olmadığına inanmayı her zaman makulleştiren bir sebep sunmadığı ileri sürülecektir. Böylece, Christensen’ın savunmasının revize edilmesi gerektiği gösterilmeye çalışılacaktır.
Peer disagreement involves a situation of conflict between subjects who are epistemically indistinguishable or who consider each other to be equals and have no reason to consider each other to be flawed. Controversy arises over what kind of attitude epistemic peers who have different beliefs should display despite starting from the same evidence. In the face of this problem about what is rational, two basic solutions are encountered. According to the conciliatory approach, the rational attitude in the case of a peer disagreement is that the subjects suspend their disagreement of beliefs or lower the level of confidence in these beliefs. The view that opposes this and is expressed as steadfast argues that the subjects can maintain their beliefs rationally despite the disagreement.
This idea of the conciliatory view, which argues as a general thesis that maintaining a belief that is the subject of debate in peer conflict is unreasonable has two basic grounds: (i) Conflict itself is an epistemic defeater and undermines the epistemic status of the subjects’ initial beliefs, and (ii) After conflict has arisen, subjects are unable to refer to the evidence of their first-order beliefs in determining their epistemic attitudes.
Lackey (2010) argued the general thesis of the conciliatory view to be flawed in some cases. People have beliefs that are highly justified and that cannot be reasonably explained as disagreement. A state of disagreement in the face of such beliefs indicates that one of the subjects has a rather peculiar mental disorder. If the subject is able to believe that they do not have a mental disorder because of their own personal information, they can reasonably believe that the other person has the problem. According to Lackey, the subject may therefore believe that the other person is no longer their epistemic peer in the face of highly justified beliefs and can rationally continue to maintain the belief in question.
Lackey argues that even if (i) is true, some beliefs’ level of justification can defeat the higher order (second-order) defeater, which is the disagreement itself. Although Christensen (2011) found this idea to be correct, he argued that this does not pose a problem for the conciliatory approach. According to Christensen, highly justified beliefs also possess some good reason to consider these beliefs to be rational. In other words, these beliefs have positive character higher-order evidence (+HOE) and can neutralize the confounding role of negative character higher-order defeaters (-HOE), which is the conflict itself. In such cases, the subject can maintain their original belief, and the conciliatory view does not take a position against it.
Although Christensen seems correct in this regard, higher-order evidence of positive character poses a problem in some cases for the conciliatory thesis, because +HOE is a reason why subjects consider each other as peers in some cases. For example, people who are experts in a subject or in a position to seek expert opinion may not only have some evidence for their first-order beliefs but also some reason to believe their beliefs to be rational. Moreover, two subjects who believe each other to be experts should share these reasons (i.e., +HOE) with each other or be aware that they may have such reasons. Otherwise, they are not able to be in an epistemic position where they can accept each other as peers.
The problem is that, if +HOE can eliminate the higher-order defeater in the case of highly justified beliefs, this should also be true in expert disputes as well, because experts may also have highly justified beliefs or believe they are highly justified. However, +HOE is one of the reasons they consider each other as peers and thus cannot be a reason for not accepting each other as peers upon a disagreement. This is a clear circularity error and thus (ii) is violated. Moreover, if both subjects can reasonably maintain their beliefs because of the +HOE, the conflict situation would not disappear, and this means an understanding that is contrary to the conciliatory approach. Still, the conciliatory view can solve this problem by arguing that positive higher order evidence can be a defeater over negative higher evidence as long as they are not the reasons why the subjects consider each other as peers.