Advertisement

Topoi

pp 1–10 | Cite as

Hinges, Disagreements, and Arguments: (Rationally) Believing Hinge Propositions and Arguing across Deep Disagreements

  • Harvey SiegelEmail author
Article
  • 27 Downloads

Abstract

Wittgenstein famously introduced the notion of ‘hinge propositions’: propositions that are assumptions or presuppositions of our languages, conceptual schemes, and language games, presuppositions that cannot themselves be rationally established, defended, or challenged. This idea has given rise to an epistemological approach, ‘hinge epistemology’, which itself has important (negative) implications for argumentation. In particular, it develops and provides support for Robert Fogelin’s case for deep disagreements: disagreements that cannot be rationally resolved by processes of rational argumentation. In this paper, I first examine hinge epistemology in its own right, and then explore its implications for arguments and the theory of argumentation. I argue that (1) the Wittgensteinian approach to hinge propositions is problematic, and that, suitably understood, they can be rationally challenged, defended, and evaluated; (2) there are no well-formed, coherent propositions, ‘hinge’ or otherwise, that are beyond epistemic evaluation, critical scrutiny, and argumentative support/critique; and (3) good arguments concerning hinge propositions are not only possible but common. My arguments will rely on a thoroughgoing fallibilism, a rejection of ‘privileged’ frameworks, and an insistence on the challengeability of all frameworks, both from within and from without.

Keywords

Deep disagreements Hinge propositions Justification Pritchard Wittgenstein 

Notes

Acknowledgements

An earlier version was presented at the 9th ISSA conference, Amsterdam, July 2018. I am grateful to the audience members on that occasion for their critical reactions, and to John Biro, Al Neiman, the editors of this special issue, two anonymous reviewers, and especially Adam Carter for their challenging comments and helpful suggestions on an earlier draft.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Harvey Siegel declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

References

  1. Carter JA (2017) Epistemic pluralism, epistemic relativism and “hinge” epistemology. In: Coliva A, Pedersen NJLL (eds) Epistemic pluralism. Series: Palgrave innovations in philosophy. Palgrave, Basingstoke, pp. 229–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Coliva A (2015) Extended rationality: a hinge epistemology. Palgrave Macmillan, BasingstokeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Coliva A (2016) Review of Pritchard, Epistemic angst: radical skepticism and the groundlessness of our believing. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, June 29 2016Google Scholar
  4. Coliva A, Pedersen NJLL (2017) Epistemic pluralism. Palgrave Macmillan, BasingstokeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fogelin R (1985) The logic of deep disagreements. Informal Log 7(1):1–8. Reprinted as part of a special issue devoted to deep disagreement. Informal Log 25(1) (2005)Google Scholar
  6. Goldschmidt T, Pearce KL (2017) Idealism: new essays in metaphysics. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  7. Popper K (1970) Normal science and its dangers. In: Lakatos I, Musgrave A (eds) Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 51–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Pritchard D (2005) Epistemic luck. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Pritchard D (2009) Defusing epistemic relativism. Synthese 166(2):397–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pritchard D (2011) Epistemic relativism, epistemic incommensurability, and Wittgensteinian epistemology. In: Hales SD (ed) A companion to relativism. Blackwell, Malden, pp 266–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Pritchard D (2016) Epistemic angst: radical skepticism and the groundlessness of our believing. Princeton University Press, PrincetonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Siegel H (2004) Relativism. In: Niiniluoto I, Sintonen M, Woleński J (eds) Handbook of epistemology. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 747–780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Siegel H (2008) Autonomy, critical thinking and the Wittgensteinian legacy: reflections on Christopher Winch, Education, autonomy and critical thinking. J Philos Educ 42(1):165–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Siegel H (2013) Argumentation and the epistemology of disagreement. Cogency 5(1):135–170Google Scholar
  15. Wittgenstein L (1958) Philosophical investigations. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Wittgenstein L (1969) On certainty. Basil Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

Personalised recommendations