Episode 34: Kieran Setiya discusses moral disagreement

In this episode, we’re joined by Kieran Setiya, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Click here to listen to our conversation with him.

Disagreement in ethical matters is a common enough phenomenon. Yet, what exactly is the appropriate way to respond when one is confronted with it in one’s own life? Sometimes such disputes can be resolved easily enough—perhaps there is a piece of missing information or an error in reasoning that can simply be pointed out by one interlocutor to the other.

However, what about the more difficult cases—those in which one faces an intractable ethical disagreement with someone no less informed, intelligent, or reflective than oneself? At the most extreme, one might worry that this sort of disagreement counts as evidence that there is simply no fact of the matter about the issue at hand. More modestly, one may conclude that such disagreement requires them to suspend their original conviction about the issue. After all, wouldn’t it be risking blind dogmatism to hold onto a belief in the face of unyielding disagreement with a similarly reasonable and well-informed interlocutor? In this episode of Elucidations, Setiya explains why he believes that the mere fact of ethical disagreement warrants neither the fear that there may be no fact of the matter, nor the thought that we are required to suspend our beliefs when confronted with such cases.

Jaime Edwards






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