Aha! Trick Questions, Independence, and the Epistemology of Disagreement


Correspondence to E-mail: zac.irving@utoronto.ca


We present a family of counter-examples to David Christensen's Independence Criterion, which is central to the epistemology of disagreement. Roughly, independence requires that, when you assess whether to revise your credence in P upon discovering that someone disagrees with you, you shouldn't rely on the reasoning that lead you to your initial credence in P. To do so would beg the question against your interlocutor. Our counter-examples involve questions where, in the course of your reasoning, you almost fall for an easy-to-miss trick. We argue that you can use the step in your reasoning where you (barely) caught the trick as evidence that someone of your general competence level (your interlocutor) likely fell for it. Our cases show that it's permissible to use your reasoning about disputed matters to disregard an interlocutor's disagreement, so long as that reasoning is embedded in the right sort of explanation of why she finds the disputed conclusion plausible, even though it's false.