Recently, an article of mine entitled “Open-mindedness and Disagreement” was published in the journal Metaphilosophy. You can access the article here. In the article I consider the relevance of open-mindedness to the problem of peer disagreement. Here is the article abstract:
The current debate about disagreement has as rivals those who take the steadfast view and those who affirm conciliationism. Those on the steadfast side maintain that resolute commitment to a belief is reasonable despite peer disagreement. Conciliationists say that peer disagreement necessarily undermines warrant for one’s belief. This article discusses the relevance of open‐mindedness to the matter of peer disagreement. It shows how both the steadfast and the conciliatory perspective are consistent with a robust and substantive display of open‐mindedness. However, it also turns out that there are more ways to display open‐mindedness on the steadfast view than on the conciliatory view.
In the article I distinguish between two basic accounts of open-mindedness. On the “indifference account,” defended by Peter Gardner, to be open-minded about an issue is to lack any firm commitment about it. Whereas, on the “contest” model, defended by William Hare, to be open-minded is to be willing to have one’s views challenged and thus be critically receptive to alternative perspectives. I see these accounts as constituting distinct but compatible forms of open-mindedness. So, then, when it comes to the two views on peer disagreement—the steadfast view and conciliationism—what role might either form of open-mindedness play in the epistemic lives of persons of each persuasion?
This is one of those articles where, in the course of writing it, I was surprised to see where my reasoning led me. Prior to deeply exploring this issue, I would have thought that the virtue of open-mindedness plays a more significant role in the epistemic life of the conciliationist, but in one sense the opposite turns out to be the case. Although we might naturally think of conciliationists as tending to be more open-minded than steadfastians, there are nonetheless more ways to display this trait on the steadfast view than on the conciliatory view. For in the face of peer disagreement, the conciliationist may only display indifference open-mindedness, but the steadfastian may display either indifference or contest open-mindedness.