The surprising truth about disagreement

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Conciliationism—the thesis that when epistemic peers discover that they disagree about a proposition, both should reduce their confidence—faces a major objection: it seems to require us to significantly reduce our confidence in our central moral and political commitments. In this paper, I develop a typology of disagreement cases and a diagnosis of the source and force of the pressure to conciliate. Building on Vavova’s work, I argue that ordinary and extreme disagreements are surprising, and for this reason, they carry information about the likelihood of error. But deep disagreement is not surprising at all, and token deep disagreements do not put pressure on us to conciliate. However, a pattern of deep disagreements points to a different concern: not the problem of disagreement but the problem of irrelevant influences. Deep disagreement constitutes some pressure to examine the foundations from which we reason, rather than to conciliate on our central moral and political claims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-157
Number of pages21
JournalActa Analytica
Issue number2
Early online date8 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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