15th November: Gunnar Björnsson (Stockholm University)

Disagreement in judgment

Time: 16:15–17:45
Place: Room 18, Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40)

Deep and systematic moral disagreement provides difficulties for orthodox cognitivist accounts of disagreement. Even if some accounts of reference fixing for moral concepts make it possible for parties of such disagreement to have the same determinate moral properties in mind, we seem to have no positive reason to think that this is actually the case. Though it seems obvious that the parties disagree, it is not obvious that their claims have incompatible representational contents. Apparently, then, our sense of disagreement has some other source. But the best-known non-cognitive account of moral disagreement, in terms of Stevensonian conflicts in attitude, faces its own problems. Not all cases involving conflicting attitudes seem to be cases of disagreement and not all moral disagreement seems to involve conflicting attitudes. Moreover, there are no obvious independently motivated amendments of the account that give us a unified understanding of disagreement. Puzzles analogous to these arise for accounts of disagreements in other potentially non-objective domains, such as those of taste and epistemic modality. In this talk, I develop and propose an account of disagreement in judgment that promises a principled explanation of why some differences in mental states constitute disagreement whereas differences in other states do not. According to this account – Discursivism – disagreement in judgment is essentially tied to communication and consists in a certain potential for disagreement in discourse.

Gunnar Björnsson in Professor of Practical Philosophy at Stockholm University and the initiator and former coordinator of the Gothenburg Responsibility Project. His research interests fall into metaethics, moral psychology, naturalized theories of cognition, philosophy of language, and moral responsibility. His work on moral responsibility focuses on developing a general theory of both individual and shared responsibility; his work within metaethics focuses on the nature of moral judgments, moral motivation, and moral disagreement. For more information, see philosophy.su.se/gunnar.bjornsson