6 March 2019: Mariangela Cocchiaro

The significance of economics for the epistemology of peer disagreement

Abstract: For over a decade now epistemologists have been thinking about the peer disagreement problem of how two agents who take each other to be peers – that is, agents who are in equally good epistemic positions to judge about the truth-value of a proposition p – are supposed to epistemically react to the disclosure of a disagreement between them concerning p. In the literature, there are at least two standard ways to respond to this question: according to the non-conformist view, it is rational for the peers to stick to their initial views upon learning of the disagreement. Conversely, the conformist view requires them to change their minds and to adopt the same doxastic attitude toward the issue. Some support for the latter view may be found in an agreement theorem from economics (Aumann, 1976), according to which two agents cannot agree to disagree, provided that they fulfil some initial assumptions. The aim of this talk is to explore the philosophical significance, if any, of this technical result – and of the substantial body of literature to which it gave rise in economics – in the ongoing debate in the epistemology of disagreement.