Master of Arts (MA)
Epistemic Peer, Evidentialism, Higher-Order Evidence, Peer Disagreement, Private Evidence, Skepticism
Aesthetics | Comparative Philosophy | Other Philosophy | Philosophy of Mind
Molinari, John, "Peer Disagreement and Rationality: An Analysis of Richard Feldman's Conciliatory View" (2016). Masters Theses. 418.
How should one's beliefs be affected by one's knowing that other people, who are equally well-informed, rational, and intelligent – in other words, persons who are epistemic, or intellectual, peers – believe differently? In this thesis I look at a certain answer to this question. Richard Feldman argues that when two persons who have (roughly) the same level of intelligence and who are (roughly) equally well-informed disagree, the only rational response is for both persons to give up their disputed beliefs and suspend judgment. I look at two objections to Feldman’s view, one from Ernest Sosa and the other from Thomas Kelly. In the end, I side with Feldman. Feldman’s call for suspension of judgment is based on an observation of symmetry in peer disagreements. Feldman argues that, in a peer disagreement, the participants should realize that for each thing one of them can say in support of his view, the other can say something analogous in support of the other view. This symmetry removes any rational basis to prefer one’s own view. I conclude that neither Sosa’s nor Kelly’s objections introduce any relevant asymmetries that would justify the disputants in a peer disagreement in sticking to their original beliefs.