Disagreements: Philosophical Analysis | University of Tartu
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  • View all other units

Contacts of UT units

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Faculty phone: 
(+372) 737 5341
Faculty address: 
Jakobi 2 - 116-121, 51014, Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    + 372 737 5341
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, rooms 116 - 121, 51014, Tartu
  • Institute of History and Archaeology
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5651
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51003, Tartu
  • Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5221
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51014, Tartu
  • Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5314
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, III, rooms 309-352, 51014, Tartu
  • Institute of Cultural Research and Arts
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5223
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 16, 51003, Tartu
  • School of Theology and Religious Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5301
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18-310, 50090, Tartu
  • College of Foreign Languages and Cultures
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, 51003, Tartu
  • Viljandi Culture Academy
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 435 5232
    Faculty address: 
    Posti 1, 71004, Viljandi
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty phone: 
(+372) 737 5957
Faculty address: 
Lossi 36, 51003, Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    + 372 737 5900
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003, Tartu
  • Institute of Education
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6440
    Faculty address: 
    Salme 1a, room 29, 50103, Tartu
  • Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5582
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, roomm 301, 51003, Tartu
  • School of Economics and Business Administration
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6310
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 4, 50409, Tartu
  • Institute of Psychology
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5902
    Faculty address: 
    Näituse 2, 50409, Tartu
  • School of Law
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5390
    Faculty address: 
    Näituse 20, 50409, Tartu
  • Institute of Social Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5188
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003, Tartu
  • Narva College
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 740 1900
    Faculty address: 
    Raekoja plats 2, 20307, Narva
  • Pärnu College
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 445 0520
    Faculty address: 
    Ringi 35, 80012, Pärnu
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty phone: 
(+372) 737 5326
Faculty address: 
Ravila 19, 50411, Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5326
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 19, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine
    Faculty phone: 
    +(372) 737 4210
    Faculty address: 
    Biomeedikum, Ravila 19, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Pharmacy
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5286
    Faculty address: 
    Nooruse 1, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Dentistry
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 731 9856
    Faculty address: 
    Raekoja plats 6, 51003, Tartu
  • Institute of Clinical Medicine
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5323
    Faculty address: 
    L. Puusepa 8, 51014, Tartu, Eesti
  • Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 4190
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5360
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 5-205, 51014, Tartu
Faculty of Science and Technology
Faculty phone: 
(+372) 737 5820
Faculty address: 
Vanemuise 46-208, 51014, Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5820
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46 - 208, 51014, Tartu
  • Institute of Computer Science
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5445
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 2, 50409, Tartu
  • Estonian Marine Institute
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 671 8902
    Faculty address: 
    Mäealuse 14, 12618, Tallinn
  • Institute of Physics
    Faculty address: 
    W. Ostwaldi Str 1, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Chemistry
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5261
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 14a, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Mathematics and Statistics
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5860
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 2, 50409, Tartu
  • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5011
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23, 23b-134, 51010, Tartu
  • Institute of Technology
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 4800
    Faculty address: 
    Nooruse 1, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5835
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51014, Tartu
Institutions
  • Library
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5702
    Faculty address: 
    W.Struve 1, 50091, Tartu
  • Youth Academy
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5581
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 38, 51003, Tartu
  • Estonian Genome Center
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 4000
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23b, 51010, Tartu
  • Museum
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5674
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 25, 51014, Tartu
  • University of Tartu Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6076
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51014, Tartu
Support Units
  • Administrative Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5606
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51014, Tartu
  • University Office in Tallinn
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6600
    Faculty address: 
    Teatri väljak 3, 10143 Tallinn
  • Estates Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5137
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51014, Tartu
  • Finance Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5125
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 4, 51014, Tartu
  • Information Technology Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6000, arvutiabi: 737 5500
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51014, Tartu
  • Internal Audit Office
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 17-114, 51014, Tartu
  • Marketing and Communication Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5687
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, ruum 210, 50090, Tartu
  • Office of Academic Affairs
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6215
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 50090, Tartu
  • Office of Research and Development
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6192
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, III korrus, 51003, Tartu
  • Human Resources Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5145
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, rooms 302 and 304, 50090, Tartu
  • Rector's Strategy Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5600
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 51014, Tartu
  • Student Council
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5400
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18b, 51014, Tartu
Other Units
  • University of Tartu Academic Sports Club
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5371
    Faculty address: 
    Ujula 4, 51008 Tartu
  • Tartu Student Village
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 740 9959
    Faculty address: 
    Narva mnt 25, 51013 Tartu
  • Tartu Students’ Club
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 730 2400
    Faculty address: 
    Kalevi 24, 51010 Tartu
  • University of Tartu Press
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5945
    Faculty address: 
    W. Struve 1, 50091 Tartu
  • Tartu University Hospital
    Faculty address: 
    L. Puusepa 1a, 50406 Tartu
  • University of Tartu Foundation
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5852
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
  • View all other units

Disagreements: Philosophical Analysis

The project “Disagreements: Philosophical Analysis” is funded by the Estonian Science Agency (ETAG) for the period of 01.01.2014 to 31.12.2019. All four chairs of the Department of Philosophy collaborate in this project.

The project is devoted to the study of disagreement as it arises in ethics, logic, ontology, science, and everyday life. People agree and disagree about a lot of things: what happens around them, what to do, matters of taste, and more generally, world views, values, policies, theories etc.

When disagreements allow for a rational resolution, they function as catalysts of progress; such as when lawyers battle out interpretations of a crime in the courtroom, or scientists hash out viable interpretations of experimental data. However, some disagreements run so deep that they don’t allow for a rational solution. Exemplary cases of these are perhaps disagreements about values in moral, political and religious debates. But there are also disputes that appear to be “faultless” in that no party to the dispute is mistaken but which are nonetheless bona fide disagreements. Furthermore, some disagreements are only apparent and upon closer inspection turn out to be merely verbal. A good overview of the variety of disagreements is provided in the volume “Disagreements” (Cohnitz & Marques 2013).

The diversity of disagreement is likely to have both metaphysical and practical consequences. In particular, dysfunctional disagreements (faultless and verbal) seem to have intriguing consequences. Metaphysically, for example, some philosophers (e.g. Hirsch 2009 and Chalmers 2009 in the case of ontology) have argued that their existence implies deflationism about the subject-matter of the initial (apparent) disagreement. Practically, the resolution of dysfunctional disagreements is likely to require very different courses of action from those called for by more standard forms of disagreement. Disagreements of this kind can be found across many domains.

Disagreements about logic and ontology provide one suggestive example. Unlike typical merely verbal disputes, disagreements about logic or ontology do not always disappear once the claims of the disputing parties have been translated into each of the participants’ idioms. But this should be expected if a view like Carnap’s (1934, 1950) were correct, according to which disagreements about logic and ontology are just a pragmatic matter of choosing a way of talking. Furthermore, there are strong independent reasons for thinking that disagreements between three- and four-dimensionalists in ontology (Hirsch 2009), and disagreements between logicians of different camps (Beall and Restall 2006) are not about genuinely competing accounts of objective facts. Thus, even if these disagreements are perhaps not verbal, and although the disputants seem to attempt to express a common primitive concept of, for example, existence, or logical consequence (for the relevant notion of a primitive existence concept, see Chalmers 2009), they might fail in this attempt because they actually possess different primitive concepts. This leaves the problem of how we should analyse such disagreements if they are neither merely verbal, nor genuinely factual, as well as how to diagnose them. Are they deep or dysfunctional?

In science we find deep disputes that derive from the diversity of theoretical approaches. The history of science shows that such disagreements often result from conceptual changes. This has motivated various anti-realist approaches such as van Fraassen’s (1980) constructive empiricism or Putnam’s (1981, 1990) internal realism as alternatives to traditional metaphysical realism. As an alternative to both metaphysical realism and antirealism, Vihalemm (2011a, 2011b, 2012) has proposed practical realism—an approach that is appropriately situated within the revival of Kuhn’s naturalized approach as found in Rouse (1987, 1996, 2002, 2003), Bird (2000), Hoyningen-Huene (1993), Andersen et al (2006), Kindi (1995), and Wray (2011). The main advantage of our approach is that it enables us to take into account both experimental and cultural circumstances of scientific research. We aim to apply practical realism to the study of scientific concepts and conceptual change and the disagreements thereby generated.

Disagreements in ethics raise both theoretical and practical issues. The persistence of disagreements even among well-informed rational people on many ethical issues raise both theoretical worries about the objectivity of morality and practical questions about how we should deal with them. Philosophers, who analyze persistent disagreements on moral issues fall into two groups, depending upon their view of the nature of ethics. Objectivists attempt to show that intractable moral disagreement does not undermine the objectivity of morality (Hurley 1985, Brink 1989, McNaughton 1988, Miller 1985, Shafer-Landau 2003), mostly by defending different accounts of moral realism. Noncognitivists argue that persistent disagreement is best explained by our clashing attitudes and can be taken as good evidence for the claim that there are no moral facts, but rather projected sentiments upon a value-free world (Stevenson 1963, Mackie 1977, Hare 1963, Blackburn 1984, Williams 1985, Tersman 2006).

The Humean strand in the history of philosophy (recently buttressed by social scientists – e.g. Bartels 2008, Forgas and Vargas 2000, Haidt 2012) denies a role to rational argument in the solving of moral and political disagreements because disagreements are based mostly on intuition and emotion. Also several philosophers (De Sousa 1987, Rorty 1980) argue that emotions make us attribute a heavier weight to the features of a situation that better fit our emotions. Thus in order to resolve disagreements we have to take the influence of our emotions in our cognition of moral cases seriously. If the relevant emotions can be seen more like actions, for which we can bear responsibility (Sartre 1948, Solomon 1980) or as affect-laden axiological judgments (Broad 1971, Lyons 1980), then emotions will also be assessable for their own rationality. Emotions as affect-laden axiological judgments can be either appropriate or inappropriate. The focus on emotions thus offers us an additional measure of assessing objectivity in ethical disagreement.

In practical terms we are interested in the question what can be done with disagreements owed to emotional factors and conflicting values. To what extent can emotions be rationally responsive and subject to control? Are disagreements on moral and political issues irresolvable if there is incommensurability of values? Can values be ranked in specific contexts, even if they clash on the fundamental level? What is meant by ‘context’?

The nature of disagreement, the implications of disagreement for the possibility of objectivity and the ways in which we should rationally react to the existence of disagreement are currently central and hotly-debated topics in semantics, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. However, these different perspectives on disagreement are not currently being integrated into a coherent whole. Our ambition is to connect the broader discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of disagreement to the typology of disagreements. We deploy the diverse expertise of the UT Dept. of Philosophy in an integrated assessment of the phenomenon from conceptual, metaphysical, and practical perspectives. The main objectives of the project are: (1) to clarify the notion of disagreement by systematizing types of disagreement and creating heuristics for diagnosing those types; (2) to analyze the metaphysical consequences from disagreements; (3) to ascertain how to address actual disagreements effectively. Our research team includes a wide range of expertise in all areas of philosophy essential for the successful undertaking of the project. It includes both well-established senior staff as well as young researchers, thus helping to ensure cooperation between different generations of philosophers.