Regardless of who you are or how you live your life, you disagree with millions of people on an enormous number of topics from politics, religion and morality to sport, culture and art. Unless you are delusional, you are aware that a great many of the people who disagree with you are just as smart and thoughtful as you are - in fact, you know that often they are smarter and more informed. But believing someone to be cleverer or more knowledgeable about a particular topic usually won’t change your mind. Should it?
This book is devoted to exploring this quandary - what should we do when we encounter disagreement, particularly when we believe someone is more of an authority on a subject than we are? The question is of enormous importance, both in the public arena and in our personal lives. Disagreement over marriages, beliefs, friendships and more causes immense personal strife. People with political power disagree about how to spend enormous amounts of money, about what laws to pass, or about wars to fight. If only we were better able to resolve our disagreements, we would probably save millions of lives and prevent millions of others from living in poverty.
The first full-length text-book on this philosophical topic, Disagreement provides students with the tools they need to understand the burgeoning academic literature and its (often conflicting) perspectives. Including case studies, sample questions and chapter summaries, this engaging and accessible book is the perfect starting point for students and anyone interested in thinking about the possibilities and problems of this fundamental philosophical debate.
Bryan Frances is Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University