On the rational resolution of (deep) disagreements

LANCAR Research Affiliate Eugen Octav Popa has published a paper entitled “On the rational resolution of (deep) disagreements” in Synthese.


Popa, E.O. (2022). On the rational resolution of (deep) disagreements. Synthese, 200, 270. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-022-03753-4.


Disagreements come in all shapes and sizes, but epistemologists and argumentation theorists have singled out a special category referred to as deep disagreements. These deep disagreements are thought to pose philosophical and practical difficulties pertaining to their rational resolution. In this paper, I start with a critique of the widespread claim that deep disagreements are qualitatively different from normal disagreements because they arise from a difference in ‘fundamental principles’ or ‘hinge commitments.’ I then defend the following two claims: (1) All disagreements are deep to the extent that they are actual disagreements. This first claim implies, I will argue, that disagreements typically regarded as normal (‘shallow’) can be explained away as misunderstandings or communicative mishaps. (2) The resolution of a disagreement can be rational either through a joint experience of mutually recognized facts or through an exchange of arguments that leads to a reformulation of the disagreement that, in this new form, lends itself to a resolution through a joint experience of mutually recognized facts. I conclude with a reflection on the consequences of these two theses for the idea of deep disagreement and that of rational resolution.

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