By Editor(s): Dr Stephen Law, University of London
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Extra info for Think. Philosophy for Everyone Volume 10, Number 27, Spring 2011
People tend to hold differing views about sports, food, movies, music, and a whole lot else. Disagreements over these topics are often heated. Yet there is no corresponding rule against discussions of these topics. In fact, it seems that some matter of controversy on these topics may be exactly the kind of topic for polite dinner conversation. Why? Here’s a possible explanation. Not all disagreement is created equal. Some disagreements are such that we can live with them. You hold your view, you hold that those who disagree with you are mistaken, and you may even engage in lively debate with your opponents when the opportunity arises.
But is there mutual or common or universal salience? The features we care most about are abstract, hence can be reached from countless paths. Can I actually communicate to you what happened in the fullest sense so that you agree with me, so that your agreeing is substantial? You do not merely nod your head in order to move the conversation forward or because you are my friend, but because my account seems reasonable to you: you find it plausible that A did this to B, and you honestly believe that A’s doing this was a bad thing.
In the first instance, we are evaluating beliefs; in the second, we are evaluating believers. It is this nuance that the No Reasonable Opposition strategy fails to capture. It conflates belief evaluation with believer evaluation. Those using the No Reasonable Opposition strategy infer from the fact that one believes what is false (a belief evaluation) that one is stupid (a believer evaluation). But whether someone is stupid is not a question of what he believes, but rather of the relation between his beliefs and what he takes to be his evidence.