A continuation of my response to the questions raised by GT. Links at the bottom of this post.
2. What is the significance of disagreement (among thoughtful, sincere, intelligent, well-informed people) about some issue? What should one conclude upon having discovered such disagreement? Is there an answer to this question that is likely to win universal (or close to universal) consent (among thoughtful, sincere, intelligent, well-informed people)?
The significance of the disagreement is that there is some issue that thoughtful, sincere, intelligent, and well-informed people cannot agree on despite their intellectual prowess and their intellectual honesty. This is significant because it seems to show that both reason and humility are not enough to result in truth acquisition. If reason can’t do the job, what other options are there? Emotions? Bare choice? Faith? What are the bases for these? How can they provide a consensus where reason cannot?
My conclusion upon having discovered such disagreement is to be very non-committal when dealing with difficult issues. I don’t see how I could happen to get the right answer when there are people who are vastly more intelligent, thoughful, well-informed, and sincere than I who have yet to find a resolution. It’s more than humbling, at times it’s almost incapacitating.
These are some of the most difficult questions for me to answer. In fact I don’t have a good answer to these questions at all, but I’ll share the effect that the fact of the disagreement (among thoughtful, sincere, intelligent, well-informed people) has on me, in hopes of sparking some discussion of what might be a better way to approach and answer these questions.
- The fact of the disagreement shakes my confidence in my own ability to discover the right answer.
- The fact of the disagreement makes me wonder if anyone will ever discover the right answer, and if someone does, how that discovery will be accepted by everyone else.
- The fact of the disagreement makes me wonder if the cause is not located in the arguments, the reasons, or the evidence but rather only in the presuppositions, the foundations, or axiomatic principles that the individuals ultimately simply act upone and accept as true.
A skeptical or post-modern solution seems to be hardly a solution since it denies something that seems intuitively obvious (that we can know true things about the world). Let’s press on towards finding a better solution if there is indeed one to be found.