DISAGREEMENT AND KNOWLEDGE: THE CASE OF PLATO’S ALCIBIADES; pp. 403–421Full article in PDF format | 10.3176/tr.2020.3.08
If there is widespread disagreement in an intellectual community, are its members in some sense failing epistemically? In this paper, I will offer a reconstruction of the first sustained attempt to answer this question. The attempt is made in the Alcibiades, a dialogue attributed to Plato. There, Socrates argues that the disagreeing parties lack knowledge. I will offer a reconstruction of this argument. Socrates relies on a controversial premiss according to which systematic and persistent disagreement within a group is an indication that its individual members lack knowledge. This claim rests on an optimistic assumption, explicit in the Alcibiades, that a person who possesses knowledge in a domain is able to persuade the audience and bring it to an agreement with the speaker. Knowledge, if present, spreads within the community unobstructed.
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