Logos & Episteme

Volume 1, Issue 2, 2010

Scott F. Aikin, Michael Harbour, Jonathan Neufeld, Robert B. Talisse
Pages 211-219

Epistemic Abstainers, Epistemic Martyrs, and Epistemic Converts

An intuitive view regarding the epistemic significance of disagreement says that when epistemic peers disagree, they should suspend judgment. This abstemious view seems to embody a kind of detachment appropriate for rational beings; moreover, it seems to promote a kind of conciliatory inclination that makes for irenic and cooperative further discussion. Like many strategies for cooperation, however, the abstemious view creates opportunities for free-riding. In this essay, the authors argue that the believer who suspends judgment in the face of peer disagreement is vulnerable to a kind of manipulation on the part of more tenacious peers. The result is that the abstemious view can have the effect of encouraging dogmatism.