Chalmers not so Parallel Resolution for Verbal Disputes and Bedrock Disputes.
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David J. Chalmers takes a normative approach towards resolving disagreement in his paper Verbal Disputes. Chalmers argues that most, but not all apparent disagreements, are verbal disputes. I will first explain Chalmers definition of verbal disputes. I will then explain Chalmers’ use of elimination to resolve verbal disputes. Then, I will summarize Chalmers’ view on how bedrock disputes relate to both verbal disputes and ordinary disagreements. Finally I will show that Chalmers’ method for resolving bedrock disputes is more complicated than his method for resolving verbal disputes. The method of elimination cannot apply to bedrock disputes. So, to resolve bedrock disputes, Chalmers discusses anchor inferentialism, and transparency versus translucency. I argue that Chalmers must either conclude that bedrock disputes are not really disagreements but errors in knowledge, or conclude that some disputes that are also disagreements are unresolvable. Neither conclusion shows that the general account of resolving bedrock disputes is parallel to the general account of resolving verbal disputes.
Chalmers notes that there are three ways to explain verbal disputes, yet his main focus is on broadly verbal disputes that he simply refers to as verbal disputes, so this is the only definition I will address (Pg. 520). Let us imagine two people, Sam and Dan, who assign distinct meanings to the same term T in an expression S (Pg. 520). Both Sam and Dan agree on the truth-value of the expression S, and agree that the expression contains the term T (Pg. 520). Where Sam and Dan run into a dispute about the expression S is on the meaning of the term T, where Sam believes it is T1, Dan believes it is T2 (Pg. 520-1). Therefore the dispute over t...
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...ck concepts directly, then we must rely on empirical (or synthetic a priori information) and thus, it cannot be automatically apparent to us that we are having a mere dispute (Pg. 560).
A dispute is translucent such that if you agree on the truth-values of other disputes, it becomes a verbal dispute (Pg. 560-1). For example, if sentence S is translucent with respect to T, then it is merely a verbal dispute (Pg. 560). Yet, before Chalmers claims that bedrock concepts are somehow primitive, so it does not seem like they could be translucent to us, if by translucent he means that they regress into a mere verbal dispute! Thus, there is no way to resolve bedrock disputes in a general story that is parallel to the general story of resolving verbal disputes.
(1) Chalmers, David J. 2011. Verbal Disputes. Philosophical Review 120 (4): 515-566