Location

University of Windsor

Document Type

Paper

Keywords

deep disagreement, vaccination, compulsion, incentives, argument, story-telling

Start Date

18-5-2016 9:00 AM

End Date

21-5-2016 5:00 PM

Abstract

Some normative problems are difficult because of the number and complexity of the issues they involve. Rational resolution might be hard but it seems at least possible. Other problems are not merely complex and multi-faceted but ‘deep’. They have a logical structure that precludes rational resolution. Treatments of deep disagreement often hint at sinister implications. If doubt is cast on our 'final vocabulary', writes Richard Rorty, we are left with "no noncircular argumentative recourse .... [B]eyond them there is only helpless passivity or a resort to force.” I will argue that some normative problems are deep, but that we need not accept these pessimistic consequences. Settling disagreements by way of rhetoric or incentive, for instance, may fall short of ideals of rational argumentation, but the moral issues raised by such strategies are different from those raised by compulsion, and realising that a disagreement is deep might have positive implications. More generally, appreciating that a disagreement is deep and hence that rational resolution is off the table may provide an incentive to seek other defensible strategies rather than returning to the frustrating and fruitless paths of a stalled debate.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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Chris Campolo, Commentary on “The Normative Significance of Deep Disagreement” (May 2016)

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May 18th, 9:00 AM May 21st, 5:00 PM

The Normative Significance of Deep Disagreement

University of Windsor

Some normative problems are difficult because of the number and complexity of the issues they involve. Rational resolution might be hard but it seems at least possible. Other problems are not merely complex and multi-faceted but ‘deep’. They have a logical structure that precludes rational resolution. Treatments of deep disagreement often hint at sinister implications. If doubt is cast on our 'final vocabulary', writes Richard Rorty, we are left with "no noncircular argumentative recourse .... [B]eyond them there is only helpless passivity or a resort to force.” I will argue that some normative problems are deep, but that we need not accept these pessimistic consequences. Settling disagreements by way of rhetoric or incentive, for instance, may fall short of ideals of rational argumentation, but the moral issues raised by such strategies are different from those raised by compulsion, and realising that a disagreement is deep might have positive implications. More generally, appreciating that a disagreement is deep and hence that rational resolution is off the table may provide an incentive to seek other defensible strategies rather than returning to the frustrating and fruitless paths of a stalled debate.