, Volume 79, Supplement 1, pp 73–100 | Cite as

There’s Something Funny About Comedy: A Case Study in Faultless Disagreement

  • Andy EganEmail author


Very often, different people, with different constitutions and comic sensibilities, will make divergent, conflicting judgments about the comic properties of a given person, object, or event, on account of those differences in their constitutions and comic sensibilities. And in many such cases, while we are inclined to say that their comic judgments are in conflict, we are not inclined to say that anybody is in error. The comic looks like a poster domain for the phenomenon of faultless disagreement. I argue that the kind of theory that does the best job of accounting for the appearance of faultless disagreement is a de se version of a response-dependence account, according to which thinking that x is funny is self-attributing a property of the type, being disposed to have R to x in C.


Comic Thought Conversational Context Doxastic State Contextualist View Possibility Space 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to audiences at the Narrative of Aesthetics conference at they University of Kentucky, the Northern Institute of Philosophy, and the City University of New York for extremely helpful comments and discussion. Thanks also to Bob Beddor for invaluable research assistance and comments.


  1. Baker, C. (2012). Indexical contextualism and the challenges from disagreement. Philosophical Studies, 157(1), 107–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barker, C. (2002). The dynamics of vagueness. Linguistics and Philosophy, 25(1), 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barker, C. (2009). Clarity and the grammar of Skepticism. Mind and Language, 24(3), 253–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barker, C., & Taranto, G. (2003). The paradox of asserting clarity. In P. Koskinen (Ed.), Proceedings of the western conference on linguistics (WECOL) 2002, 14 (pp. 10–12). Department of Linguistics, California Sate University, Fresno.Google Scholar
  5. Chisholm, R. (1979). Objects and persons: Revisions and replies. In E. Sosa (Ed.), Essays on the philosophy of Roderick Chisholm (pp. 317–388). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  6. Chisholm, R. (1981). The first person. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  7. DeRose, K. (2004). Single scoreboard semantics. Philosophical Studies, 119(1–2), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. DeRose, K. (2009). The case for contextualism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dreier, J. (2009). Relativism (and expressivism) and the problem of disagreement. Philosophical Perspectives, 23, 79–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Egan, A. (2006a). Appearance properties? Noûs, 40(3), 495–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Egan, A. (2006b). Secondary qualities and self-location. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 72(1), 97–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Egan, A. (2007). Epistemic modals, relativism, and assertion. Philosophical Studies, 133(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Egan, A. (2010). Disputing about taste. In Feldman & Warfield (Eds.), Disagreement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Egan, A. (Forthcoming). Relativist dispositional theories of value. Forthcoming in Southern Journal of Philosophy, special issue on relativism about value, Max Kölbel and Dan Zeman, eds.Google Scholar
  15. Evans, G. (1985). Does tense logic rest upon a mistake? In His Collected papers, (pp. 343–363). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  16. Feldman, R. (2004). Comments on DeRose’s ‘Single Scoreboard Semantics’. Philosophical Studies, 119(1–2), 23–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Finlay, S., & Björnsson, G. (2010). Metaethical contextualism defended. Ethics, 121(1), 7–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. García-Carpintero, M. (2008). Relativism, vagueness, and what is said. In M. García-Carpintero & M. Kölbel (Eds.), Relative truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gibbard, A. (2003). Thinking how to live. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Greenough, P. (2011). Relativism, assertion, and belief. In J. Brown & H. Cappelen (Eds.), Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hume, D. (1757/1965). Of the standard of taste. In J. Lenz (Ed.), Of the standard of taste and other essays. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  22. Huvenes, T. T. (2011). Varieties of disagreement and predicates of personal taste. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 90(1), 167–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jackson, F. (1998). From metaphysics to ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Kölbel, M. (2002). Truth without objectivity. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Kölbel, M. (2004). Indexical relativism vs. genuine relativism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 12, 297–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kölbel, M. (2013). Agreement and communication. Erkenntnis. doi: 10.1007/s10670-013-9447-2.
  27. Lasersohn, P. (2005). Context dependence, disagreement, and predicates of personal taste. Linguistics and Philosophy, 28, 643–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lewis, D. (1979a). Scorekeeping in a language game. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 8(1), 339–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lewis, D. (1979b). Attitudes de Dicto and de Se. The Philosophical Review, 88(4), 513–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. López de Sa, D. L. (2008). Presuppositions of commonality: An indexical relativist account of disagreement. In M. García-Carpintero & M. Kölbel (Eds.), Relative truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. López de Sa, D. L. (2010). The making of truth: Realism, response-dependence, and relativism. In C. Wright & N. Pedersen (Eds.), New waves in truth. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  32. MacFarlane, J. (2007). Relativism and disagreement. Philosophical Studies, 132(1), 17–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. MacFarlane, J. (2011). Epistemic modals are assessment-sensitive. In B. Weatherson & A. Egan (Eds.), Epistemic modality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Perry, J. (1979). The problem of the essential indexical. Noûs, 13, 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Plunkett, D., & Sundell, T. (MS). Interpretivism and the pragmatics of legal disagreement. Draft available at
  36. Quine, W. V. O. (1969). Propositional objects. In W. V. O. Quine (Ed.), Ontological relativity and other essays. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Richard, M. (2004). Contextualism and relativism. Philosophical Studies, 119(1–2), 215–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Richard, M. (2008). When truth gives out. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stalnaker, R. (1978). Assertion. In P. Cole (Ed.), Syntax and semantics 9, New York: New York Academic Press (Reprinted in Stalnaker 1999).Google Scholar
  40. Stalnaker, R. (1987). Inquiry. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  41. Stalnaker, R. (1999). Context and content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Stephenson, T. (2005). Assessor sensitivity: Epistemic modals and predicates of personal taste. In J. Gajewski, V. Hacquard, B. Nickel, & S. Yalcin (Eds.), New work on modality, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics (p. 51).Google Scholar
  43. Stevenson, C. L. (1944). Ethics and language. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Stevenson, C. L. (1963). Facts and values: Studies in ethical analysis. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Sundell, T. (2011). Disagreements about taste. Philosophical Studies, 155(2), 267–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Weiner, M. (MS). Gaps in semantics for ‘Knows’.
  47. Wright, C. (2001). On being in a quandary. Mind, 110(437), 45–98.Google Scholar
  48. Zimmerman, A. (2007). Against relativism. Philosophical Studies, 133(3), 313–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Arché Philosophical Research CentreUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsScotland

Personalised recommendations