ArgLab • Permanent Seminar

The perils of giving voice to others’ disagreements

Giulia Terzian (ArgLab, IFILNOVA, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa)

Several authors have recently argued that, when someone asserts a false or unwarranted belief b in some conversational context, we may face a defeasible positive epistemic obligation to voice our (sincere) disagreement with b, in that same context. Building on those discussions, we now move to examine a related class of expressions, which we (provisionally) label third-party manufactured disagreement: disagreement that is expressed (given voice) by a speaker, on behalf of a (possible or actual) third party, notionally as a means of making a cooperative contribution within some conversational context. For the purposes of this talk, our chief illustration of such expressions will be the well known and sometimes notorious practice of journalistic balance, in particular as the latter is applied in the domain of climate change reporting (and science reporting more generally). While the epistemic and moral perils attached to this practice have been repeatedly flagged in the past, a satisfactory explanation of exactly why journalistic balance is sometimes inappropriate, or indeed downright harmful, remains elusive. We sketch the beginning of an answer to this question that draws on quite distinct debates within argumentation theory, social epistemology, and theories of pragmatic enrichment.

(Joint work with M. Inés Corbalán (ArgLab, IFILNOVA, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa)

Everybody is welcome to join!

For online participation, please use the following link (password: 006421).

This event is organized by P. Abreu and E. Rast. The purpose of this seminar series is to give researchers a platform to discuss ongoing work and problems in the philosophy of language, epistemology, argumentation, metaethics, and related areas. For administrative inquiries, please contact Pedro Abreu <> or Erich Rast <>.