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Rationally irresolvable disagreement

Tuesday, November 23, 2021, 3:40 pm – 5:20 pm

This colloquium talk is planned as an online event. Registration by email is only required for non-CEU members.


The discussion about deep disagreement has gained significant momentum in the last several years. This discussion often relies on the intuition that deep disagreement is, in some sense, rationally irresolvable. In this paper, I will provide a theory of rationally irresolvable disagreement. Such a theory is interesting in its own right, since it conflicts with the view that rational attitudes and procedures are paradigmatic tools for resolving disagreement. Moreover, I will suggest replacing discussions about deep disagreement with an analysis of rationally irresolvable disagreement, since this notion can be more clearly defined and captures the basic intuitions underlying deep disagreement. In this paper, I will first motivate this project by critically assessing the current debate about deep disagreement. I then detail the notions of rationality and resolvable disagreement which are crucial for a suitable theory of rationally irresolvable disagreement before sketching various forms of rationally irresolvable disagreement. Finally, I investigate the prospects of applying the theory of rationally irresolvable disagreement to deep disagreement. I argue that this approach has significant advantages over existing theories of deep disagreement, which focus on hinge propositions or fundamental epistemic principles.