Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy

Yonatan Shemmer

University of Sheffield

Subjectivists May Disagree

18 May 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: Subjectivists, it is often said, cannot account for disagreement since on their view apparently conflicting moral judgments turn out to be compatible reports of the different beliefs of the speakers about their own conative attitudes. Jackson (2008) has argued that compatible belief reports can still constitute disagreement if the reports are reports of conflicting underlying attitudes. Thus when I say ‘I believe the wall is green’ and you say ‘I believe the wall is red’ we disagree even though our claims may well both be true. I do believe the wall is green and you do believe it is red.  We think that Jackson’s reply is the most natural way for subjectivists to address the objection but claim that this reply commits the subjectivist to provide an account of disagreement in conative attitudes. Typically accounts of disagreement in conative attitudes fail to fit into a unified theory of disagreement because they understand disagreement about non-normative matters to be a case of inconsistency whereas they understand disagreement about normative matters to be a case of pro-attitudes that cannot both be satisfied.  Such accounts also struggle to match our intuitions since they struggle to explain why two people who wish to kill each other do not thereby disagree. We argue that our Normative Theory of Disagreement (Priestley-Shemmer 2017) solves both of these problems and thus complements Jacksons approach. At the heart of our theory lies the thought that disagreeing peers have reasons to modify their attitudes in light of their disagreement. We then address an important objection to our theory, namely, that deviant incentives may give reasons to modify attitudes in such a way that would force our theory to classify the parties as disagreeing when in fact they are not.