ArgLab • Colloquium

Teresa Marques

Hybrid Dispositionalism and Disagreement

Most disagreements that are worth having: over matters of taste, over the value and normative import of aesthetic, moral, political, or legal claims, occupy a large and central share of human activity and don’t fit a simple model of disagreement. It’s questionable whether in those domains there’s one single correct answer to each possible question (what’s the case and what isn’t, or what can, can’t, or should be done), and it’s doubtful that one either gets things right, or one doesn’t. These doubts intersect various kinds of questions: the metaphysical question of what, if anything, distinguishes matters of fact from matters of value, and of matters of personal taste; the epistemic question of whether two people who disagree can’t be both right about the topic of the disagreement; the semantic question of what the content of mental states and speech acts must be for people to disagree. I favour contextualism about evaluative and normative discourse. But it faces the objection that it can’t account for disagreement in the above domains. I want to explore possible replies to the objection, and will point to some dead ends. The view I’ll propose combines:


–       Semantic contextualism about the literal content — where the content of a value predicate is dispositional property.

–       Presuppositions/conversational implicatures that serve “a connection building role”;

–       Expressive presuppositions/conversational implicatures that convey speaker’s conative attitude.


Teresa Marques, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain