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TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2022): 0.2
PDF | 10.3176/tr.2020.3.08

Toomas Lott

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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