Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Edward Hinchman

Committee Members

William J. Wainwright, Joshua Spencer


Epistemology, Evidence, Peer Disagreement


In opting to consider toy cases of disagreement -- cases that, like Christensen's dinner bill scenario, obviously involve evidence-sharing epistemic peers -- epistemologists have hitherto failed to take seriously a distinct and "deeper" kind of disagreement. The distinction emerges most clearly, I argue, when cases that are typically thought to be vulnerable to the threat of "spinelessness" are brought in for more careful consideration (i.e. political disagreements, religious and philosophical disagreements, etc.). By picking out distinctive features of this sort of disagreement -- deep disagreement -- and arguing that it is, in fact, epistemically significant (though, perhaps requiring a different response than that required by toy cases of shallow disagreement), I attempt in this paper to re-orient the literature on disagreement, recommending that epistemologists focus their efforts on paradigmatic cases of deep disagreement and suggesting that this will resolve apparent tensions associated with "spinelessness" that have arisen within the literature.

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Philosophy Commons